The Chanceford Township zoning hearing board voted unanimously Thursday night to deny a proposed strip club.
And with that, the crowd of roughly 150 people in the gym of Clearview Elementary School - many of whom attended all four nights of the hearing - exploded in applause.
"The Lord answered our prayers," said Pastor Dan Warner of Antioch 1611 Baptist Church in Stewartstown after the three-hour hearing. "I believe the Lord was involved in this whole thing."
Warner and other clergy from area churches led the faithful in prayer and song before the hearing each night it was held.
Faith quickly became the focus for those against the strip club.
"It is the Lord's doing," Assistant Pastor Chris Star of Mount Zion Baptist Church in the township, said of the vote.
Appeal? Though the three-man board voted down the special exception that would have allowed for the strip club, applicant Terry Sutton, co-owner of the 2512 Delta Road strip mall, could appeal the decision to the York County Court of Common Pleas.
Board members cast the vote after a 30-minute executive session during which they reviewed evidence.
In April, the planning commission voted to recommend the zoning hearing board not grant an exception.
Sutton's attorney, Chris Vedder, declined to comment after the hearing and led Sutton out of the gym.
Before the vote, Vedder said the appliction meets zoning requirements and should be approved.
The strip club, which would have been called "The Office," was proposed as a members-only "adult cabaret," featuring live, partially nude female dancers and private rooms in 6,500 square feet. People would have to be at least 21 years old to apply to become club members, who would be allowed to bring in up to 72 ounces of beer, 750 milliliters of wine or 200 milliliters of spirits.
It would have featured five private rooms and was to employ seven people full time. A further five to 15 entertainers would also have worked there.
Opposition: Before the vote, a number of people gave testimony, some of it emotional, against the strip club.
Kristin Thomas, who said she lives behind the strip mall, broke down in tears as she urged board members to vote against it.
"I'm here for my children," she said between sobs. "I'm begging you. I don't want to have to explain to them as they are playing in the front yard what they are looking at."
Mike Vannoy, a farrier from the township, said when people ask where he's from, he proudly tells them Brogue and they usually don't know where that is. But if the club were to open, people would know Brogue because of the club, Vannoy said, adding he'd lose some pride in where he lives.
"If this goes through, they'll know where I'm from," he said.
York City resident David Moser, chairman of the York County Libertarian Party, urged board members to consider only the zoning ordinance and not to let emotions from the crowd play a factor.
Night after night: Paul Minnich, an attorney for People's Bank who argued against the strip club, said he was impressed with the number of people who turned out for each night of the hearing.
With 20 years of practicing municipal law under his belt, Minnich said residents opposed to a controversial plan usually come out for the first few nights of a hearing but fail to stick with it.
"Many of them work during the day, and to show up for the hearing night after night shows how committed they are," Minnich said. "They are community minded."
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.