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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014 7 years ago

Stripped revenue: Cheetah Lounge to sue county for $5.1 million

by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

The Cheetah Lounge and Sarasota County are at it again.

In their most recent legal battle, Cheetah Lounge has asked the county to pay $5.1 million in relief under the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Act, claiming county ordinances adopted in 2008 have "worked to inordinately burden, restrict and limit the private property rights of the property owner." 

Simply put, Cheetah is fighting for its right. To party. Topless.

Cheetah claims the ordinances, which require the club to A.) register as a sexually oriented business (it hasn't), and B.) prohibit both customer touching and full nudity (both ignored) have burdened the property to the tune of $5.1 million.

County commissioners will weigh their legal options today at their regular meeting. In a recent memo, County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh refers to the following options:

  • Consider a settlement, including the possibility of altering the ordinances in question
  • Pay $5.1 million to Cheetah Lounge owners
  • Offer to pay less than the amount demanded
  • Offer to pay less than the amount demanded, with concessions
  • Issue a statement offering no changes to the ordinance
  • Do nothing and wait for the lawsuit to be filed

DeMarsh maintains that the county has several arguments against the claim, including the fact that the nudity ordinance is one regulating the actions of people, and not one restricting or limiting the use of real property.

He continues in the memo, saying that despite nudity restrictions, Cheetah Lounge can still be used as an adult-entertainment business, therefore the ordinances do not put a burden on the property’s existing use. 

“We believe the county has several arguments as to why it is not liable,” said DeMarsh in the memo. “There are risks associated with any lawsuit, but our office recommends sending a letter to Cheetah Lounge denying the claim and informing it that the ordinances will be enforced as written.” 

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