It's been over ten years since Paul Viveros took on the fight to get a license to have adult dancing at his Oliver's Restaurant.
For years Viveros and the city battled as the city tried to thwart Viveros and at the same time craft zoning that would seriously hamper any efforts to establish an adult entertainment business here in the city.
In 2005 the city and Viveros had a stalemate of sorts. The city had its adult entertainment district struck down by the courts as unconstitutional. The courts also sided with the city that Oliver's was in an industrial district and the city was within their rights to deny a license for adult entertainment. The end result was that after years of fighting and thousands of dollars spent, the city had stopped the one serious attempt to establish a 'strip club' in the city, but at the same time the city had failed to come up with a workable way to control where such businesses could be established.
So now, the city is one again facing the dilemma of a local business owner looking to establish adult entertainment in Fall River. This time the business is located in the one area the city constantly boasts as a key to economic revival, our waterfront.
The ownership of the Regatta has submitted requests to establish adult entertainment and to have a 18 and over club license. The city now has to decide whether to grant this or to deny it and once again risk a court battle. The problem is the Regatta is located right near our waterfront attractions. This is the area where Fall River Celebrates America takes place. This is the area where hundreds flock to walk the boardwalk. With plans to raze the overpass it and create a an open boulevard it would seem that this section of the route 79 corridor is the last place we should want an adult entertainment business established.
It would now appear that the city has been very shortsighted in its strategy. The city spent years trying to craft an adult entertainment zone that was practically inaccessible and unbuildable. Instead the city should have worked to create a zone that protected those areas where it's felt that adult entertainment might have a negative impact on development. The city could have further enacted provisions that might not have stopped adult entertainment from coming in, but would have made it more difficult and safeguarded the best interests of the city.
Lefty's view: I understand that many don't want adult entertainment in our city, but the reality is legally we have been unable to stop it. Is our waterfront the right place for a strip club? I certainly don't think so. So where do you place a facility like this? I would say far away from where you want to spur commercial development, particularly areas of tourism. Ideally it would be isolated from the heart of the city and near the highway so traffic could come in and out of the city without traveling through the city. Gee, come to think of it Oliver's might have been a great place for it after all.