A state judge has ruled that recent newspaper ads and printed fliers for entertainment at a North Buffalo bar violated a 1997 agreement with the city.
Attorneys for the Colonie Lounge on Hertel Avenue and the city must return to court Feb. 21 for a hearing "on the appropriate punishment" over the advertising, State Supreme Court Justice Frank A. Sedita Jr. said in an order Tuesday.
Ads for the bar were "willful and in contempt" of the 1997 agreement, Sedita said.
Paul J. Cambria Jr., attorney for Kathleen Paradowski and her husband. Joseph, said the Sedita ruling is "a good result because it solidifies our contention that we can continue to operate as a nontopless establishment."
Cambria, whose clients have included Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, said he thinks that there is still "an issue of fact to be determined" through a court hearing about the type of dancing performed at the Colonie.
But Cambria said he also sees the Sedita ruling as "an opportunity for a compromise" with the city to avoid more legal costs for taxpayers.
Cambria said advertisements that led Sedita to conclude that the Paradowskis violated the terms of the 1997 agreement regarding the topless venue operated by the Colonie's former owner were based on an error committed by the owner of an advertising outlet his clients recently used.
The owner of the ad outlet, which Cambria declined to identify, erroneously used stock footage of topless dancers he had on hand as he put together ads for the Paradowskis.
Cambria said Kathleen Paradowski, who manages the bar, "doesn't operate that way," does not use topless dancers and did not approve the questionable advertisements.
"We don't think there should be any punishment at all, but if necessary, we would pay a fine just to save city taxpayers further legal expenses and move on," Cambria said.
Corporation Counsel Michael B. Risman said the government will "pursue the contempt finding" to punish the lounge and appeal what he said was the judge's failure to address zoning issues in the case.
"This was a zoning case, and we feel that the 1997 deal put an end to adult uses" of the lounge, said Risman, whose term as the city's chief attorney ends today.
In his decision, Sedita noted that under the order he issued in 1997, topless dancing at the Colonie was to end in seven years.
"The 1997 agreement of the parties extinguished only topless adult entertainment and did not extinguish exotic cabaret, go-go dangers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators or similar entertainers," the judge said.
The judge stressed that city ordinances "do not define topless dancing."
Sedita said he relied on findings of the State Liquor Authority that "recognizes a difference between dancers who appear bare-breasted and dancers who wear pasties."
Affidavits filed in the case by Common Council Member Marc A. Coppola of the Delaware District and his legislative assistant, Michael Agostino, said they were in the lounge in the fall and saw female dancers remove camisoles and perform lap dances.
Coppola said he urged Mayor Byron W. Brown to get the corporation counsel's office to appeal the Sedita ruling "to a higher court in an effort to stop" all adult dancing at the Colonie.
Coppola said that he and residents of the bar's immediate vicinity "are disappointed and surprised by" Sedita's ruling and that he was sure the intent of the 1997 deal "was to discontinue any adult entertainment at this location."