The owner of Kahoot’s Men’s Club finds his efforts to move into the Gold Club’s neighborhood blocked by Hartford’s zoning regs. So he’s challenging those rules on First Amendment grounds.
If Kahoot’s owner Daniel Quinn had his way, the Gold Club would not reign as the sole topless bar in Hartford’s North Meadows. Quinn, operating through a limited liability company, is now the tenant at a property on Weston Street, with plans to open an adult cabaret there, according to a lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court.But he hit a hitch: Hartford zoning rules mandate all such establishments not be within a 1,000 foot radius of a residential zone. Quinn’s property falls within that radius. In this case, though, the problematic residential section lies across a railroad track, the lawsuit says, which is impassible for several miles in each direction.Therefore, the zoning ordinance as applied to Quinn is irrelevant, the lawsuit says, because no governmental interest can be served by banning the club, when it can’t even be accessed from the residential section. And because no public interest can be served, the ordinance constitutes a content-based restriction, violating Quinn’s first amendment rights, the lawsuit says. “It violates [Quinn’s] constitutional rights to free speech and expression in that it is overbroad and not narrowly tailored in its restrictions, contrary to the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit says. The city of Hartford and its zoning officer are defendants. The attorney representing Quinn’s LLC, Daniel Silver of New Britain-based Silver & Silver, is asking the court for an injunction to stop the city from enforcing its ordinance.Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose Jr. did not return a call for comment.Ordinances targeted at strip clubs often brush up against free speech concerns. One of the seminal U.S. Supreme Court cases on the topic, Renton v. Playtime Theaters, holds that a First Amendment problem exists only if a municipality denies strip clubs a “reasonable opportunity” to operate in a city. That would be a tough burden to meet in Hartford, as the operation of the Gold Club itself shows strip clubs can open their doors.