SANGERVILLE, Maine — A Portland-area man who has filed notice that he intends to convert a building he owns in Sangerville into a “gentlemen’s club” is a convicted felon who served about seven years in federal prison for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and for evasion of income taxes.
Stephen D. Cardelli, who filed a notice with Sangerville municipal officials that he plans to improve his property for a gentlemen’s club, nightclub and lounge, said Thursday the proposal is not one he is undertaking; he is helping acquaintances.
Contacted by telephone, Cardelli said he is looking to rebuild and renovate his Route 23 property because Portland-area friends want to lease the property and operate the new business.
Cardelli’s building petition calls for an expansion of the foundation of a former house that was gutted by fire in February 2009 to a footprint of 40 feet by 75 feet, making the building about 3,000 square feet in size. He also plans to renovate an adjoining structure that houses a covered in-ground pool and convert it into a “gentlemen’s club.” The work is expected to be completed by September.
The Sangerville Planning Board will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 10, in the town hall meeting room to discuss the plan.
Residents who have been circulating petitions asking the planning board for a moratorium on the business venture until it can be taken to the voters worry that the gentlemen’s club will be a strip joint and point to Cardelli’s prison record.
Cardelli, who was released from prison in October 2001, said: “I served my time, I’ve been out of jail for nine years and I haven’t even had a speeding ticket.” He said his only connection with the club, if it is opened, would be as owner of the property.
His friends are talking about doing some type of a lounge, restaurant and a dance area, Cardelli said.
“As far as a strip joint is concerned, I never said anything about that to anybody,” he said. “Is it going to be a strip club? I can’t say that because I don’t know that. Would they hire some girls to work there if it’s going to become some kind of a club? Yes.”
Cardelli said he made inquiries of town officials last year about what could or could not be developed on his property and was told that Sangerville has no zoning other than in the shoreland protection zones. “I could do whatever I want there,” he said he was told. Before he considered leasing the property, Cardelli said he wanted to make sure that his friends’ proposal would be legal in the town.
As advised by George Tozier, Sangerville’s code enforcement officer, Cardelli said he filed a petition with the town last year to improve his property. He said he filed another petition about the same improvements again in recent weeks. “That’s as far as it’s gone,” he said.
Cardelli stressed that nothing is final. “I haven’t even decided that I’m even going to rent the property,” he said. The project would be a major expenditure for him, he said.
While he did not name the parties interested in operating the business, Cardelli called them acquaintances from the Portland area whom he has known for some time. One of the interested parties has been in the restaurant and club business for many years, he said.
Cardelli reiterated that the project is very tentative. “Nothing is, of today, cast in stone,” he said.