MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Local authorities have the discretion to enforce state law regarding the operation of at least one Bunker Hill, W.Va., adult “exotic” entertainment club because it does not have a state license to serve alcohol, officials said last week.
Paradise City 2 Gentlemen’s Club at 9734 Winchester Ave., which claims to be the largest Bring Your Own Beverage club in the four-state area on its website, is not regulated by the state because it does not have a license from the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, an agency spokesman said.
“Therefore it is a matter for local authorities to address,” said ABCA spokesman Gary L. “Gig” Robinson in an email this week.
Given state law, Norwood Bentley, the Berkeley County Council’s attorney said Thursday that the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and the West Virginia State Police can still control alcohol consumption that possibly occurs at the club.
“Drinking at what is defined as a public place is not allowed by the state Constitution,” Bentley said.
For a business to be designated as a private club, it must obtain a state-issued license from ABCA, according to Bentley.
Bunker Hill area resident Donna Huffman, who was joined by members of two Bunker Hill churches at Berkeley County Council’s Thursday meeting, asked county officials for more oversight of clubs in the county and to be sure that all criminal activity is consistently reported to the state ABCA.
“For years I have said, ‘Somebody has to do something about this,’” Huffman said. “We can’t continue along this path in this county.”
Huffman’s remarks on Thursday came after she voiced objections to the the county council earlier this month about an apparent bid to reopen Vixens Gentlemen’s Club in Bunker Hill and Taboo Gentlemen’s Club just outside of Martinsburg.
Huffman previously cited a number of negative impacts on her neighboring property in Bunker Hill, and indicated Thursday that she might return to speak to the county council again about the issue.
Bentley said Thursday that the county has asked the ABCA to hold a public hearing about the property owner’s apparent intent to reopen the clubs, but had not yet heard from the state about the request.
The county adopted an exotic entertainment ordinance in 2004 that restricted the location of strip clubs within 2,000 feet of certain places, including schools, parks, churches and residential areas, but it was deemed invalid in October 2008 as a result of a lawsuit in Berkeley County Circuit Court.
TNA Enterprises LLC of Broadway, Va., doing business as The Paradise City 2, incorporated in April 2008, records said.
Changes to state law in 2009 allowed for enforcement of the ordinance, which was then readopted by the county. The ordinance doesn’t apply to existing clubs, but the grandfather clause can expire if the property’s use has ceased and has been vacant for a year, Bentley has said.
Since speaking to the county council earlier this month, Huffman said she has contacted Gov. Jim Justice, local lawmakers and met with others in the Bunker Hill community about club-related problems.
“When the bars are allowed to stay open and serve alcohol until 3 o’clock in the morning here and they close at 1 a.m., in Virginia … when they come, their … drug dealers come with them,” said Huffman.
“It just creates chaos on our highways, in our clubs and in our homes.”
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Deborah Carr said she believes her daughter, who died in November 2014, didn’t begin using heroin until she started working at an adult “exotic” entertainment club in the county.
Carr said she would still be opposed to either club reopening, even if the circumstances of her daughter’s death were different.
“It’s just a drug house … a prostitution house,” said Carr, recounting messages from her daughter about working at the club.
In another overdose case, authorities have said one man died after obtaining heroin from another male in May 2016 in the smoking area of Vixens and died within minutes after using it, according to court records.
The death of Joel Michael Custer, 22, of Augusta, W.Va., is part of a drug-related criminal prosecution pending in U.S. District Court in Martinsburg.