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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Clarksburg Residents Vow to Fight Nude Entertainment

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, September 15, 2005

Clarksburg Selectmen's Chairwoman Debbie LeFave
Clarksburg – Can one business force a community majority to cast its’ moral values to the winds in the name of the First Amendment, or can a community prevail and insist that a business respect the values held by the majority?

That question provoked heated discussion during a Sept. 14 Selectmen’s meeting.

A license change application submitted to town officials by the Mountain View Restaurant owners, if approved, would pave the way for live nude entertainment and has spawned fury and outrage from many town residents.

The application has also prompted allegations from some community members that town officials and residents were misled during public hearings held as part of the business opening permitting process.

Michael Milazzo purchased the property in February 2004 from former owner Sandy Beaudin for $175,000. The business opened at 91 Wheeler Ave. in October 2004 as a cocktail lounge and was expanded into a restaurant in November 2004.

Milazzo did not return a telephone call seeking information about specific plans. He did not attend last night’s meeting.

Public Hearing Set


Town resident Richard Peck
Town resident Richard Peck expressed his anger during the meeting.

“That restaurant was just a facade for what he wants right now,” Peck told Selectmen’s Chairwoman Debbie LeFave, Selectman Carl McKinney, Selectwoman Lily Kuzia and about 50 town residents who crowded into the Selectmen’s meeting room.

Selectmen are required by law to schedule a public hearing within 45 days of receiving the application and during the meeting the hearing was set for Wed. Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall on River Road. If it becomes apparent that attendance may be extremely large, the meeting could be moved to the Clarksburg Elementary School on Middle Road.

Milazzo or a business representative must attend the public hearing and offer more information about their plans, Selectmen said.
Selectmen, who act as the town’s licensing authority, must act on the application within 30 days of the public hearing.

LeFave told the residents that town officials are investigating what options may be open to the town. But she cautioned that battling the application could be an uphill climb.

“We are using all our resources,” she said. “You have to understand that our hands may be tied. There is a thing called the [United States] Constitution.”

At present, the town has no regulation banning nude entertainment. The existing license approved by Selectmen permits live entertainment with some restrictions, dancing, and allows Milazzo the charge admission fees. The license does not allow Sunday shows.

Then....

A Dec. 15, 2004 Advocate newspaper article quoted Milazzo as saying that the restaurant was bought and opened out of a desire “to find a nice, clean place we could enjoy on the weekends.”

“The area was lacking in a spot that was clean and safe, so we decided ‘let’s do one.’” Milazzo reportedly said to Advocate editor and reporter Glenn Drohan. “We thought there had to be more people like us who wanted a nice environment to go to.”

...And Now

Those words seem a stark contrast when compared to the application submitted just nine months later by Milazzo Incorporated, which asks that the current entertainment license be modified to permit the “exposure of any pubic area,” “the exposure of anus or genitals,” “the simulation of the anus,” and other body exposures and simulations.

In July, the restaurant hosted an “all-male G-string review.” The event was granted a special permit after Milazzo agreed to reschedule the show from a Sunday to a Monday. The special permit did not allow total nudity.

According to numerous neighborhood residents, their quality of life has diminished since the business opened.

North Houghton Street resident Neil McLeod said he is an abutter of the establishment. He plans to consult a private attorney and investigate his own options, he said.

McLeod said that as time has passed, music coming from the site has become very loud, fights erupt on a regular basis, and “there’s screaming and hollering in the parking lot.”

Selectman Carl McKinney


McLeod and other North Houghton Street residents said that intoxicated persons are often seen walking along the street late at night and have been observed urinating in public. Episodes of vandalism are on the rise in the neighborhood since the business opened, residents said. McLeod called the adequacy of the town’s part-time police department into question and alleged that town police are slow to respond to calls from neighborhood residents.

Other residents said that when they have tried to call town police to report problems during weekend wee hours, they are met with a recording in most instances.

Clarksburg resident John Morocco told people that the town and the City of North Adams share services through a mutual aid agreement and that town residents can call city police for assistance. Callers should call 664-4945 to report situations that are not emergencies.

Emergency calls should be reported to 911.

Morocco, who is the city’s Commissioner of Public Safety, stressed repeatedly that he was speaking as a private citizen of Clarksburg.

LeFave told the residents that if the application is approved, it is very likely that the town will have to expand the police force.

Shared Impacts

LeFave noted that the town wouldn’t be alone in dealing with possible issues generated by nude entertainment. Access to the business is limited; vehicles must travel north or south along Houghton and North Houghton street [the street name changes at the city/town border] to the privately owned “Easy Street” drive or must navigate Wheeler Avenue. Any business traffic increase will impact North Adams streets, she noted.

LeFave also noted that the establishment is situated about a mile and a half from the town’s elementary school and about the same distance from a children’s playground on Houghton Street in North Adams. While the building footprint and parking lot are zoned for commercial use, “Easy Street” is zoned as residential.

Ted McAllister and his wife live on North Houghton Street directly across from the restaurant’s driveway.

“Ever since he opened up, it hasn’t been what he said it was going to be,” McAllister said. “There’s already been somebody running up and down [the roadway] nude. I’m against this.”

Town Planning Board member Cal Syms said that when the Milazzos began seeking permits to open the restaurant, “every [town] board bent over backward to help them get going.”

Town residents and elected officials had many questions about the proposed business at that time, Syms said. The Milazzos assured residents and town officials that the restaurant would be “a class place,” Syms said.

“Now it’s on a real downward turn,” he said.

One resident suggested that “if Tony [Milazzo, Michael Milazzo’s father] and Mike [Milazzo] want this so bad, why don’t they go right back up to Heartwellville [Vt.] and have at it?”

The speaker was referring to the town where Michael Milazzo resides.

James Quirk of 470 North Houghton St. said that he has no problem with someone trying to make a living but he is opposed to nude entertainment.

“If he stuck to what he told us in the beginning, we wouldn’t be here now,” Quirk said. “He promised us a classy operation.”

Former town Selectman Robert Norcross said that sly comments about the town’s becoming home to a nude club are already circulating throughout the Berkshire region. He suggested that ordinances restricting nude entertainment be crafted, but LeFave said that since the Milazzo application would predate any new town regulations, the application would likely not be affected.

Law of Decency

Norcross said that he believes the town has already been hurt by the request and subsequent publicity, and also asked if Selectmen would be receptive to an application that eliminated total nudity but sought partial nudity.

“Why can’t we live under the laws of decency, of care for our grandchildren?” asked resident Robert Bona.

After hearing from many of the residents that they were elected to serve, Selectmen offered suggestions.

“You can make your feelings known,” LeFave said. “Write letters to the editor, go on the Opinion [radio] program, contact the [Berkshire] Eagle, the Transcript, iberkshires. Write letters to Mr. Milazzo. This is your town.”

“I wish I had a magic wand to make this go away,” she said. “We’re here for you. We’re fighting for you.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net or at 802-823-9367.
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