Milford Takes Aim at Coyotes

MILFORD, Penn. — Philadelphia suburb Milford has filed an injunction against nude cabaret Coyotes Show Club requesting that it be allowed to operate only as a restaurant/bar, with no adult entertainment, until either winning its own lawsuit against the township or obtaining proper local permits, according to The Intelligencer.

The club, whose previously-filed suit charges the township with violating its free speech rights, opened last Friday, Dec. 14, with women dancing topless before a crowd of about 20 customers. That same day, U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe issued an order prohibiting Coyotes from having adult entertainment. Despite questions about whether Rufe actually had the jurisdiction to make that ruling, the club's owners had dancers perform in bikinis after receiving the order.

Milford allows adult entertainment in the commercial district where Coyotes is located, but says the club never applied for permission to run as a strip bar. Some officials have also said that it would not meet zoning requirements, anyway, because it is too close to a public park.

Coyotes' suit, filed by parent company Barnett Food Group in late November, asks that Millford's zoning regulations be stricken down and that the company be awarded money for civil rights violations, attorney fees and court costs. It also seeks a judge's permission to open a strip club.

Court papers filed by Milford say that Barnett willfully deceived the township by applying to open a restaurant/bar. After obtaining permission to do so last summer, allegedly, the club installed a stage, lighting and other amenities without building permits in order to open as a gentlemen's club.

"In order to circumvent the requirements of Milford Township that conditional use approval be obtained under the zoning ordinance," the Milford filing read, "defendant Coyotes instituted an action in [federal court]."

Milford is also seeking attorney fees and court costs in its suit.