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Sunnyside council listens to public comments, accepts findings of fact on moratorium

Several citizens spoke at a public hearing last night, Monday, held by the Sunnyside City Council on a moratorium delaying exotic dancing licenses for Sunnyside businesses.

The public hearing was held so council could hear comments and testimony from the public, consider staff reports on the progress to date regarding development of new regulations and to adopt findings of fact supporting the imposition of the moratorium.

The current moratorium on adult entertainment businesses came about when Chuck Egley applied for a business license that Sunnyside City Manager Eric Swansen said included exotic dancing.

Swansen told the council last night the city didn't have any legislation in place that dealt with this. Since the application was deemed incomplete and vague, the city used these excuses to call a time out so officials could study the issues more closely.

Swansen noted to the council and the audience that any hope to outlaw adult entertainment is unrealistic, adding the U.S. Supreme Court won't allow it. Sunnyside must provide land for these types of businesses.

Mary Werkhoven was the first to speak at the public hearing. She told council that many people in Sunnyside have worked hard to dispel the negative reputation Sunnyside has in Yakima County. She urged the council to not allow a business license that she claimed would degrade women and the men who frequented these businesses.

Kathryn Furan told the council more than just stripping and nudity can go on at one of these businesses. She warned the council that these types of places will make Sunnyside lose the values held here and will fill the mind and soul full of ugly images.

Marie Duim, a resident of Grandview, came to Sunnyside's meeting to voice her concern and urged council to say no to adult entertainment.

"This is Sunnyside not Sleazyside," she said.

The man that ignited this firestorm, Egley, seemed a bit confused by all the commotion.

Noting that he had no idea what was coming when he applied for his business license, he claimed this is all a misunderstanding over his intentions. Egley said he is not planning to open a strip club or have nude dancers at his place. The dancers, he said, would be clothed.

"I don't know what I'm doing here," he said. "Maybe I didn't even need a license."

Egley claimed there isn't any regulations on what he wants to do at his club.

Councilman Bill Gant said the majority of Sunnyside residents do not want this type of business, no matter what it's called. He advocated coming up with a code that is very strict but still within guidelines.

"It's what the people of Sunnyside want," he added.

Council member Theresa Hancock favored the council taking its time with this and doing it properly, adding it will be a good idea to see what kind of secondary effects adult entertainment businesses will bring in town.

City officials will use the six months of the moratorium to write legislation they hope will effectively deal with the needs of Sunnyside's citizens, while meeting the needs of businesses.

. Corey Russell can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail crussell@eaglenewspapers.com

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