Birmingham strip club owners reapply for liquor license for proposed Triana club

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TRIANA, Ala. (WHNT) - Eight months after the Triana town council denied a liquor license to Birmingham-based strip club owners, the town is going through the same paces.

Brothers Graham and Gregory Jackson, who own "The Furnace," a multi-million dollar "gentlemen's club" in downtown Birmingham, want to open a strip club on more than seven acres of land along Wall Triana Highway, directly across from a residential subdivision in Triana.

The owners applied for a liquor license for their proposed club for the second-time in less than a year.

The town received the application in November and held a public hearing for the application Tuesday. The hearing proved Triana residents' opinions have not changed.

They believe there are better ways to bring commerce and tax revenue to the area than a strip club.

"If the council doesn't come together to protect the community, someone's going to become a victim of the secondary effects of these businesses," resident Dan Melton told the council members.

Mayor Mary Caudle said she has yet to hear from a resident advocating for the club and its potential tax revenue.

"Originally I voted 'No' and I don't have a problem with saying that my vote will still be 'No' unless someone can show me that this is in the best interest of the town and right now, I don't see that reason."

Purchase Agreement

The Jackson brothers operate their Birmingham strip club through Best In Town Inc., however they listed the responsible party for the proposed Triana club as Uptowner, LLC.

Public records show another corporate entity of the Jackson brothers, Out of Towner, LLC, entered into a purchase agreement with the owners of the seven-plus acres of land on June 25, 2014, more than a month after their first liquor license application was denied.

Out of Towner, LLC, agreed to buy the 7.25 acres for $250,000, but the documents show that the offer was contingent on the town's approval of the license application.

The closing of this Contract shall be contingent upon any and all City, County and/or State approvals for the business use and the issuance of all permits, licenses, curb cuts, ingress and egress points as necessary or required to do business and to the sole acceptance and satisfaction of the Purchaser. The failure of the non issuance of any of the permits, licenses, curb cuts, and ingress/egress points by the City, County and/or State, deemed by the Purchaser in its sole opinion as necessary for the success of its development, will allow Purchaser to terminate this Purchase and Sale Agreement.

The sale of the land was scheduled to close no later than October 24, 2014. According to tax records the deed never changed ownership and the land continues to sit untouched.

Legal Advice

The law firm Martinson & Beason usually serves as legal council for the town of Triana, but the office also represents the developers.

Cue former longtime Madison County Commission attorney Julian Butler.

He advised the Triana town council in the May 2014 decision.

Butler recommended denial then. He said the town's liquor license ordinances require an existing building with a certificate of occupancy that complies with sanitary and health codes. The license applicant must also either own or lease the property. He also sited an incomplete and unclear application.

Serving as a consultant again, Butler told the council Tuesday that the same criteria for denial still exist eight months later.

"It is my firm conclusion that the application does not meet your ordinance and should be denied," he said.

Vicious Cycle

In the time since the first application's denial, Triana council members have tried to come to a consensus on a new ordinance that would ban strip clubs from coming to their town.

"These amendments are based on restrictions to locations, the distance and hours of sales and who can apply," said council member Luis Ferrer.

The ordinance was never passed and until it can be updated to include a minimum distance from residential areas, Mayor Caudle says she expects the developers to continue to reapply for a liquor license.

There is no limit on the number of applications that can be submitted.

The council will set the date for the liquor license vote at its next meeting on January 26.