Pa. town sued after rejecting pole-dancing studio

It’s not Porn, but the idiots who run this town think it is….

PITTSBURGH – A suburban Pittsburgh woman has sued a town that refused to allow her to open a pole-dancing studio on the grounds it was a sexually oriented business.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Pittsburgh by the American Civil Liberties Union claims Adams Township officials violated Stephanie Babines’ right to free expression by denying her an occupancy permit.

Babines, a computer analyst from Cranberry Township, alleges “the small-town municipal officials do not approve of the type of dance she teaches. They believe it is ‘provocative,’ full of sexual ‘innuendo,’ and too dangerous for their township.”

Babines claims her studio does not fit the definitions of adult business in the township’s zoning code and wants a judge to rule that barring a dance studio that doesn’t involve nudity violates the First Amendment.

“My classes are a specially designed exercise for women that allows them to have fun, feel confident about their bodies and express their sexuality,” she said in a statement. “This is not a strip joint or gentleman’s club.”

Although Babines’ classes include pole-dancing, power lap dance, strip tease and “SeXXXercise,” they are all taught and done fully clothed, the lawsuit states. Men can’t take the classes, and no spectators are allowed.

The occupancy permit was denied because “we recently received information that would classify your business as an ‘adult business’ because of the content of your advertising and information” on Babines’ Web site, township code enforcement officer Gary Peaco wrote to Babines in March.

At an appeal hearing in May, Peaco testified he didn’t need to interview Babines because her Web site’s “pink-and-black color scheme … and the high-heeled shoe in her logo” indicated to him she planned to run a sexually oriented business, the lawsuit states.

The hearing included testimony from Babines’ students, including “a self-described Christian grandmother,” all of whom said the routines were not sexually explicit, the lawsuit states.

Babines operates a dance and fitness program called “Oh My You’re Gorgeous,” and teaches pole-dancing in a Cranberry Township studio and at homes. She wanted to expand her business and leased a former children’s clothing store in nearby Adams Township, about 25 miles north of Pittsburgh.

She said she spent about $10,000 installing flooring, mirrors, poles, dressing rooms, additional walls and other amenities. She wishes to use the space to teach dance and fitness classes and hold bachelorette parties where she would teach pole dancing, as well as sell “non-sexually explicit merchandise such as poles, high-heeled shoes, feather boas and T-shirts.”

Peaco said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation. Township solicitor Charles Flach did not return a call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.


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