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Ruling may give nude club new life

A Hillsborough circuit judge has thrown out the county's rules governing adult entertainment, a move that could allow Joe Redner to reopen his nude-dance club in Brandon. But it's not precisely clear what will be the next step for either Redner or the county in a contentious and public battle over the nude-dancing lounge.

Judge Richard Lazzara ruled Tuesday that the county used the wrong procedures when it passed rules governing the location of adult entertainment establishments in 1988. He also overturned Redner's 1990 criminal conviction on charges that Redner illegally opened the Mons II club on State Road 60 in March 1990.

The club was closed shortly after it opened because it was about 1,000 feet _ instead of the required 2,000 feet _ from a kindergarten.

Redner claimed victory in the ruling, even though the judge struck down the ordinance on a technicality and not on the grounds that it violated his right to free speech, as Redner had contended.

"We're going to open," Redner said. "This means I should be open and should be allowed to open."

Redner said he'll reopen the nude-dancing club quickly _ perhaps within weeks _ in hopes of squeezing in before the county can pass another ordinance.

But he may not be able to move that fast. The ordinance remains in place for 10 to 15 days, which allows the county to appeal the decision, Assistant County Attorney Jack Crooks said.

Crooks said county attorneys are studying the complex case to investigate whether the county will appeal the decision and whether it will pass another ordinance. Passing the ordinance would take 30 to 45 days, he said.

But the ruling could leave a gap during which there is no adult-entertainment ordinance _ and a window of opportunity for Redner.

"The ordinance is invalid. It's gone," Crooks said. "We have a lot of work to do."

Redner said he expects the county will take action to stop the opening of his club.

"Their intention is to keep me from opening because of the business that I have," he said. "And that's very apparent."