Strip Club Next to Convent: Nuns Upset Over Nudity Next Door

A strip club next to a convent is leaving fired up nuns fighting for change.

A strip club to open next door to a convent is brewing discontent in Stone Park, Ill., a western suburb of Chicago, where a multimillion-dollar strip club is slated to open near St. Charles Borromeo in Melrose Park, Ill.

The nuns fighting the strip club opening maintain they didn't know the seedy establishment was planned next to their convent until it was too late.

Now the nuns say the new strip club could jeopardize their serene lifestyle. The convent grounds include homes for elderly nuns, a house for new sisters and a series of gardens.

"It's not safe, first of all," Sister Marissonia Daltoe said. "Secondly, it can be noisy, at times."

The nuns are worried about the activities that are set to take place just over a fence that surrounds their vegetable garden.

Cars coming and going at all hours, the potential for a rowdy crowd and the inevitable noise associated with the establishment are all alarming to the nuns.

"They tell us it's a restaurant, but officially we receive the news it's a gentlemen's cabaret," Daltoe said. "We are religious. We espouse certain beliefs. As Catholic religious we take vows, and we have something like this totally opposite going on."

But the owners of the strip club maintain that the sisters of St. Charles Borromeo have nothing to worry about.

"It's entertainment for mature audiences," owner Bob Itzkow said.

Itzkow denies that the new business is a strip club, but argues that it is a $3 million, 18,000-square-foot upscale cabaret with nudity.

The building is soundproof and the lighting was designed to minimize the disturbances to neighbors, he said.

The village approved the permits to build the strip club, despite its opposition to the move, according to reports. Fighting the club could have cost the village upwards of $500,000.

The nuns are unhappy because they never were notified and consequently were left in the dark throughout the process. A letter sent out by the village announcing a public hearing was reportedly sent to the wrong address.

The village said it was an oversight, but the nuns said something different.

"Personally, I believe they never gave it to us because they knew they were going to have a negative response to it," Daltoe said.

The club is slated to open in the spring. For now, all the nuns can do is sit back and hope that the club remains what the owners claim it to be.

"By law everything was done correctly," said Stone Park Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla.

Village officials, including the mayor only supported the notion of the club after being sued by developers in 2010 and settling for an unknown amount.

Regarless of the outcome, the nuns will likely remain opposed to the business as a matter of principle.

"What are we trying to teach the children in the neighborhood?" Daltoe said.

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