April 07, 2020

Van Buren opposes exotic dancing

VAN BUREN — Local voters soundly defeated on Friday night a proposed ordinance that would have allowed exotic dancing in town.

The vote was 280-47 against the ordinance after a 70-minute session, most of which was taken up by residents casting their secret ballots.

A Millinocket businessman who wanted to offer the exotic shows said Saturday, however, that he still plans to purchase the former Colonial Motor Inn on Main Street in Van Buren.

Wes Proctor, who operates an exotic dancing club near Millinocket, said he wants to establish a hotel, dining room and lounge in Van Buren.

“Right now I just want to concentrate on the purchase of the hotel … and get some people to work up there,” Proctor said.

He anticipates employing 10 full-time and six part-time employees.

The Van Buren Town Council is scheduled tonight to consider granting Proctor a liquor license during a meeting.

If approved, the new town ordinance would have allowed the performance of acts or simulated acts of masturbation, sodomy, bestiality, oral copulation and flagellation. In addition, the display of breasts and buttocks would have been allowed.

Proctor has owned the Dolby Motel near Millinocket for 10 years and the La Casa de Fiesta, where the exotic dancing takes place, for eight years.

During those eight years, Proctor said, there has never been a violation at the so-called “gentlemen’s club.”

The auditorium at the Van Buren District Secondary School was packed with about 350 people as the Friday night session began. After a motion was made to approve the proposed ordinance, there appeared to be no interest in debating the issue. A public hearing was held on the proposal last month.

Most comments Friday centered on the voting procedure. After deciding to vote by secret ballot, the townspeople had only a few questions about what their votes would mean. The prepared ballots contained two statements: “I am in favor of the ordinance change” and “I am against this ordinance change.”

“If we want to restrict nude dancing, we should vote no,” said one resident.

Moderator John Pluto, a resident from neighboring Hamlin, explained that the new ordinance was less restrictive than the current special amusement law in place.

Balloting started about 20 minutes after the town meeting began, and many people left after they cast their ballot. Counting of the ballots started shortly after 8 p.m. About 40 people lingered to hear the results.

“If the nos win, they should ring the church bells,” said Marcella Violette, as she awaited the outcome.

When Pluto announced the voting results, applause broke out from those remaining.

After the meeting was adjourned, Pluto, who said he was against this type of activity in town, said that the Van Buren community was well served by having the issue brought to a town vote so promptly.

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