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Ormond Beach Observer Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014 5 years ago

Officials hope for new development at Cheaters site

by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

‘It’s a huge thing for that corridor,’ official says.

After the City Commission voted to settle a dispute with Cheaters on Aug. 6, Commissioner James Stowers, who represents the area, recollected the meeting after the club opened in 2010. Citizens packed the commission chambers to complain about the adult business in the neighborhood.

“It was a standing room only crowd,” he said. “I’ll never forget the gentleman (representing Cheaters) who came up and said they were going to do whatever they want to do.”

Stowers said he wished that crowd was there for the settlement.

“It was a long process,” he said.

When the settlement came up for a motion, several commissioners started to speak.

“I think we all want to make that motion and second it,” Mayor Ed Kelley said.

The vote puts an end to a long legal battle. The city claimed it was sexually-oriented business and violated city ordinances; the club maintained it was a bikini bar.

The building is for sale, and new owners are expected bring change with them.

“We are so pleased they are ending an adult-oriented business,” said Peggy Farmer, leader of the North U.S. 1 Coalition, a business group. “Whatever goes in there is OK as long as it’s wholesome.”

The building was painted pink, apparently to get the attention of customers, but it also got the attention of city officials and business leaders who thought the eye-catching color did not fit the image of Ormond Beach.

“It certainly will improve the looks of U.S. 1 if we can remove the pink building,” said Commissioner Rick Boehm.

The building was in the county when Cheaters started, and the property was later annexed into the city.

Stowers said he sees positive things on the horizon for the area, and the Cheaters site has a strong potential for development because of visibility from U.S. 1.

“It’s a huge thing for that corridor,” he said.

Boehm praised City Attorney Randy Hayes and his staff for their work in the litigation. He said the tactic of saying the club violated city ordinances was the correct approach.

The settlement, which was initiated by the club, puts an end to the dancing by employees and contractors. It stops a lawsuit by the city and a countersuit by the club, owned by 1545 Ormond LLC and 1545 Operations Inc., Rhode Island companies. The case was set to go to trial in October.

In other business, the city approved outdoor music for the Beach Bucket Bar and Grill, 867 S. Atlantic Ave. The Planning Board had recommended approval.

Scott Studner, owner, asked the commission to allow him to have the music earlier on Sunday, at 11 a.m., but the commissioners decided to keep the hours consistent with other restaurants. They did say, however, that the subject may be visited in the future, and new hours for music may be considered for all establishments.

“It’s a fairness issue and a consistency issue,” said Commissioner Bill Partington.

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