Douglas County commissioners passed the onus onto the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on Thursday to decide if there will be a topless club on lower Kingsbury Grade.
The commissioners, sitting as the liquor board, said they were essentially powerless in the face of the bistate regulatory planning authority, since earlier this year the county changed its zoning laws for the Lake Tahoe Basin to match with TRPA's regulations.
"You need to proceed with approval from the TRPA before seeking approval from this board," Commissioner Don Miner told Tamara Laub.
Laub, owner of Fantasy Girls in Reno, was seeking a cabaret-discotheque license to operate Club Eden at 270 Kingsbury Grade. The space is now occupied by Faces, the only nightclub on the South Shore catering to the gay community. Laub was in negotiations to purchase the business space in the building, but said the deal is entirely contingent on obtaining the needed licensing.
Laub left Thursday's meeting with no clear answers, but a definite feeling of discouragement after listening to several residents voice their opposition to her business plans.
"I'm a little discouraged. There are some really angry, aggressive people and I don't want to be the target of that," Laub said. "I'm not here to push something on the community. I care about this community. I don't want to trash it. What I want to do is provide a needed service. There is a need for a place for bachelor and bachelorette parties. Right now they are getting that service from escorts and there is little regulation there. We would offer a controlled, safe and fun environment. Our business would not impact the community anymore than Faces did. It seems people are forgetting that there was already a bar there."
Laub brought a petition signed by 200 people she said were in favor of the business. County Manager Dan Holler said the county had received 82 calls against the business and five in favor. The courtroom at the Douglas County Administration Building in Stateline was filled Thursday with residents wanting to voice their opinions.
Commissioner Steve Weissinger also stated his personal opinions for the record.
"I don't support this proposal because of the proximity of the business to Kahle Park ... I'm totally against this as an individual. I don't support this type of business coming into this neck of Lake Tahoe," he said.
Regardless of public sentiment, Commissioner Kelly Kite pointed out that neither the liquor board nor the county commission had any authority to regulate a business based on personal likes or dislikes.
"The law does not allow us to regulate anybody's patrons or how they conduct business," Kite said. "We can not approve or deny a business on whether we like it or not."
In fact, the board admitted that it had no legal reason to deny Laub's application, and whether it passed or not was entirely dependent on if the TRPA determined that topless dancing was a lawful use for the area.
The board continued the issue to July 20, the next meeting in Stateline, and directed Laub to seek approval from the TRPA.