BARRE – The owner of Planet Rock might have to hang a "help wanted" sign outside his local strip club based on a newly approved condition to the establishment's entertainment license.
One week after rejecting a proposal that would have likely required Planet Rock owner Danny Garr to beef up staffing at his nightclub, city councilors reversed themselves Tuesday night.
Acting on the motion of Councilor Kevin Moulton, the council agreed to reconsider a license restriction that would require Garr to have a minimum of one paid staff member on duty for every two of the club's dancers who are performing on any given night.
The provision, which was approved by a vote of 5-2, would require a minimum of four staff members in the club at all times with one of them specifically designated to monitor the live video feed from cameras in the club's stage area, as well as four backrooms where private dances are performed.
Last week Garr told councilors that he typically had three to four staff members at a club where there are anywhere from five to 14 dancers at any given time.
Based on those numbers, Garr would likely have to add staff to comply with a requirement that Mayor Thomas Lauzon urged the council to approve.
"We don't need to impose it (the license condition) right away," Lauzon said, suggesting the council invite Garr to attend next week's meeting, which will be held Monday night to avoid a conflict with next Tuesday's scheduled re-vote of a controversial charter change that levied a tax on land owned by churches and other previously exempt organizations.
"The council has fairly broad discretion," he said.
Councilors exercised that discretion last week when they approved a modified entertainment license for Planet Rock that specifically prohibits any "lewd physical contact" between the club's patrons and performers. That license provision was proposed by Lauzon in response to a report that a state liquor inspector saw a "… a customer's head buried in a woman's breasts" last summer.
Councilors have alleged the incident violates a decade-old license requirement that requires dancers to remain at least three feet away from the club's patrons while they are performing nude.
Garr and his lawyers have repeatedly denied the claim and have filed a lawsuit, which is still pending in Washington County Superior Court. Garr's request for an injunction preventing the council from enforcing the new license requirement was denied last week.
Attempts to reach Garr for comment were unsuccessfully Wednesday. Last week he and his lawyer told councilors that any new restrictions were unwarranted given Planet Rock's otherwise spotless record.
However, Lauzon has argued the new restrictions are necessary to protect the public health and welfare in an establishment where alcohol is served and the illusion of a "flirtatious environment" is intentionally fostered.
"I continue to be concerned about the mixture of alcohol and that flirtatious environment," said Lauzon, who last week tried, but failed to persuade councilors to prohibit the consumption of alcohol at Planet Rock while scantily clad and nude dancers were performing.MORE IN Central Vermont
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