Munhall council, locals to weigh in on strip club

Could this be the end of Club Pink?

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After a man was fatally shot outside of Munhall's only strip club earlier this month, it briefly closed. But at a hearing tonight, the community and borough council will weigh in on Club Pink's future.

Residents will have the opportunity to express concerns, and council could vote to revoke the permit of the club at 936 E. Eighth Ave., councilman Dan Lloyd said.

Such swift action is permissible under the borough's adult entertainment ordinance, which was modeled after similar legislation in Homestead and adopted in 2008, he said.

"Munhall is not a smart choice for adult entertainment since we enacted the ordinance," Mr. Lloyd said.

The ordinance requires such things as a 2 a.m. closing time, no full nudity and a buffer zone between patrons and employees. It also provides council with the option to suspend or revoke an establishment's license. Such action is up to the seven members of council, Mr. Lloyd said, but added, "I wouldn't bet against it."

"It comes down to: Did you violate the rules? How many? And how often?" he said.

But attorney Lou Caputo said Club Pink is within its rights -- the club moved into its current building in 2007, before the ordinance was adopted.

"I think we'll be successful in our position that we're operating within the law," Mr. Caputo said. "I think we'll come to a compromise with the [borough]."

Club co-owner Bob Marino deferred comment to his attorneys.

The hearing is scheduled for 6 tonight in Munhall council chambers, 1900 West St.

"If we vote to revoke the permit, I think other communities will look to us and say, 'Wow, what does your ordinance say? We need to adopt that,' " Mr. Lloyd said.

Mr. Lloyd said he expects to hear from many angry neighbors asking council to revoke Club Pink's permit.

"The owners aren't bad guys, but that kind of business is attracting the wrong type of people, and they can't control that," Mr. Lloyd said, referring to the shooting death outside the club.

John Hunter Sumpter IV, 32, of Wilkinsburg was sitting in a car outside the strip club on March 3 when he was shot in the head and killed, police said.

Witnesses told police that Paul Barone, 23, of Munhall fired shots following an argument outside the club. Mr. Barone has been charged with homicide and a weapons violation. He is being held in the Allegheny County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Mr. Caputo said the incident did not occur on Club Pink's premises. "There was never an issue in the place," he said. "It was off our property."

The Allegheny County district attorney's office and club owners met the next day and agreed that Club Pink would voluntarily close until last Friday -- "pending the correction of numerous deficiencies involving both local zoning ordinances and the crimes code," district attorney's office spokesman Mike Manko said.

"They want to be good neighbors," Mr. Caputo said. "We want to work with the municipality and any local law enforcement. We were saying, 'What can we do to help?' "

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