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Shakers

Waverly mayor Mike Werner apologized to state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau for a foul-language sign posted at the entrance to a private strip club at the edge of town in March.

The owner of the Shakers Gentlemen's Club in Waverly has withdrawn his application for a liquor license, but the legal wrangling over allowing alcohol sales in the strip club will likely continue.

Dan Robinson and his company, Midnite Dreams Inc. sought a license for Shakers this summer after state lawmakers passed a law empowering the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission to regulate bottle clubs, where members pay fees and bring in their own alcohol.

Shakers, which has been offering totally nude dancing since it opened nearly 23 years ago, has operated as a bottle club for the last several years and has never had a liquor license.

Local resistance again stood in Robinson's way. The Waverly City Council recommended a denial of its request for a liquor license and enacted a nudity ban. And Shakers, off U.S. 6 near the Interstate 80 interchange, encountered a zoning issue, too. 

"Midnite Dreams had no choice but to withdraw the application at this time," Robinson said in a statement provided by his lawyer this week.

Waverly annexed Shakers into the city in 2005, 10 years after it opened.

In 2008, Robinson sought a liquor license, but the City Council then voted unanimously to recommend against granting the license.

Robinson withdrew his request before the Liquor Control Commission could take up the matter.

History repeated itself June 26.

At a City Council meeting, several residents, including members of the First United Methodist Church in Waverly, declared their opposition to the strip club's liquor license application. Some opponents said a license would attract more people or other similar clubs to open in Waverly.

Another person pointed to a controversy from March when Robinson, on a sign outside the club, referred to a state senator as "FULL OF SH-T." 

A Shakers bartender testified the liquor license would allow staff to cut off patrons who've drank too much, and another resident pointed out that the license would allow law enforcement to more carefully scrutinize the club.

The City Council ultimately voted 4-0 to deny the license request, setting up a hearing before the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission.

But before that hearing could be scheduled, other city issues emerged.

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Council members in Waverly began drafting a nudity ban, an ordinance they enacted in September.

The ban sought to regulate sexually oriented businesses in the city but granted an exception to nightclubs that allow nude dancing but don't sell alcohol, essentially a grandfather clause for Shakers. 

A provision of the ordinance allows the city to seek cancellation, suspension or revocation of a liquor license if a sexually oriented business allows nudity inside the licensed premises.

Robinson disputes the legality of the ban and its application to Shakers, he said in the statement.

Robinson withdrew the application Nov. 29, three days after a hearing before the Waverly Planning Commission where Midnite Dreams attorney Bob Creager had asked for a special-use permit to allow alcohol there.

But Robinson's fight might not be over.

"(Midnite Dreams) anticipates further legal challenges will be necessary to resolve this impasse with the city of Waverly," he said.

Waverly Mayor Mike Werner didn't respond to a request for comment.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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