Madison’s only strip club will close for three months at the start of 2020, according to an agreement between Visions Nightclub and the city of Madison.
Visions, located at 3554 E. Washington Ave., has operated on the east side for decades and has seen numerous disturbances, fights and weapons violations on its premises. A shooting last December focused attention on the nightclub.
Ald. Grant Foster, District 15, is not convinced that closing for three months will prevent problems at the establishment.
“These issues happen there and not necessarily from the negligence of the operators,” Foster said. “It’s a really difficult place to have any nighttime entertainment.”
Visions is located at a site currently not zoned for strip clubs that is near residential areas. It moved to the location under a previous zoning classification and is allowed to operate today as a legal, nonconforming use.
Under the current zoning code, adult entertainment taverns are allowed to operate in some industrial areas and are required to be at least 500 feet from places like parks, schools and places of worship.
In August, Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Zilavy filed a lengthy complaint against Visions alleging that the nightclub violated city ordinances by expanding or changing the licensed premises without the city’s permission, serving alcohol without a licensed operator on site and illegally procuring alcohol.
It also alleged Vision was maintaining a “disorderly or riotous, indecent, or improper house.”
At a subcommittee of the city's Alcohol License Review Committee Sept. 24, members voted to strike down allegations against the nightclub that were more than two years old. An agreement between Visions and the city called these the "most egregious violations."
The amended complaint left the city with 12 violations rather than 60.
"I was a little disappointed in the decision to restrict the suit in terms of how far it could go back," Foster said. "Given that reality, I think the agreement makes sense."
As a result of the subcommittee’s actions, Zilavy and Visions attorney Jeff Scott Olson entered into an agreement that stipulates the nightclub will close starting at 5 p.m. on Jan. 1 for 90 days. Additionally, Visions agreed to conditions that include:
- Developing and implementing a dress code policy prohibiting patrons from wearing certain articles of clothing, like hats and hoods on sweatshirts.
- Developing and implementing a written weapon screening policy.
- Developing and implementing a written policy for checking all objects in the possession of employees and patrons in which alcohol, firearms or other weapons could be hidden.
- Developing a written security plan and include responses for employees to follow regarding situations like shootings and robberies.
- Developing and implementing a written policy regarding when staff should call the police.
- Purchasing and implement an ID scanner.
- Updating video surveillance system, so that all public areas of Visions Nightclub are covered by operational cameras and entire parking lot and sides of building are covered.
Olson called the agreement “reasonable,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal Oct. 29.
Also at the meeting, the City Council did not approve a request to reorganize ownership of Visions. Instead, Downtown Madison Investments LLC will need to apply for a new license in order to operate a Silk Exotic Madison East Gentlemen’s Club out of the space that Visions is located.
The ALRC will review this proposal Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. in room 201 of the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.. A public meeting will be held about the proposal the day before at Pedro’s Mexican Restaurante, 3555 E. Washington Ave.