Appeal Of Permit At Former Déjà Vu Site Will Not Mean Strip Club Return

(March 22) The appeal of the county planning commission’s approval of a conditional use permit to transform the now shuttered Déjà Vu strip club in the unincorporated county area near Montclair into a sports bar or comedy club does not carry a petition that the adult entertainment aspect of the venue be revived, a county land use officer told the Sentinel.
The Déjà Vu, which was established as a club featuring topless dancing in the 1980s, became the object of dispute with the county’s planning division more than two decades ago over activity in and around the club as well as its location at the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Mission Boulevard. In 2002, after legal sparring between the county and the club’s ownership, Michigan-based Tollis, Inc., a legal settlement was arrived at by which Tollis agreed to raze the adjoining motel which rented rooms by the hour and make changes to the landscaping, lighting and maintenance and security of the property in exchange for being able to continue to operate as a strip club for ten years.
Last year, the county moved to enforce the provision forcing its cessation as a strip club and Tollis reluctantly acceded to transforming the club into a non-adult entertainment venue or sports bar, while maintaining its liquor license.
The conditional use permit for the sports bar or comedy club called for further changes with regard to the property, in particular the demolition of the large billboard sign at the front of the property and a change in the external lighting, which entailed a rotating projector which transformed the color of the building from red to pink to purple to blue to green at night.
Tollis appealed the planning commission’s action to the board of supervisors and previous notice was given that the appeal could be heard as early as last week. The matter has been continued to March 26.
The public noticing of the appeal did not specify the grounds for Tollis’ request, leading to some speculation that an effort was underway to reestablish the 7,048 square foot nightclub building at the 1.22-acre site as a strip club.
The county’s planning director, Terri Rahhal, however, last week told the Sentinel that the appeal of the conditions of approval was not to the nature of the entertainment to be allowed at the venue but rather with regard to signage, lighting and security.
“The conditions of approval related to the removal of the existing sign and conformance to our current signage standards,” Rahhal said. “They also objected to the lighting requirements and providing on-site security.”
Tollis wants to keep the existing sign in place, Rahhal said. Additionally, it objects to the county’s condition that the “external lighting not be animated light,” i.e., continuously changing colors. “We just want straight white lighting,” Rahhal said.
With regard to the on-site security, the county called for Tollis employing two bonded employees of an independent professional guard service at the location. “They have objected to that requirement,” Rahhal said. “They plan to have one guard, rather than two and instead of being with an independent security firm they want to employ one who works for the operator.”

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