City officials say ‘sex club’ does not violate ordinances
For a year, city officials have been investigating complaints of a swingers club operating in a western Shawnee industrial area, within a couple of blocks of a Montessori preschool and nearby residences.
But assistant city attorney Ellis Rainey said Friday that city officials have determined that ordinances regulating nudity and adult entertainment businesses in Shawnee do not apply to the private club, known as KC Playroom. And the establishment, which is being operated as a nonprofit enterprise, does not require an occupational license, he said.
The club, which leases space in an industrial building on Martindale Road, was referred to as a “sex club” in an email City Manager Carol Gonzales sent to members of the Shawnee City Council on July 24.
“We have reviewed the investigative and legal research that we did last year,” Gonzales wrote in the email, “and while we think we will come to the same conclusions — that it is a private use of a privately owned building, therefore subject to building and fire codes, but not other regulations applicable to businesses — we want to do some additional research to be sure. I will keep you posted.”
A resident who complained about the establishment in an email to city officials earlier this year, however, said he was disappointed the city had not kept him posted or done anything about the club.
“We sent you information on (the) sex club here in Shawnee back on July 11,” the resident, who emailed Gonzales under the name “Bob Smith,” wrote on Oct. 24. “To date, nothing has been done to have this business licensed and permitted. Frankly, we are very disappointed in many ways. When we told ALL of you about this, only ONE council member (Michelle Distler) even responded.”
In a July 12 email, Distler thanked the resident for his correspondence and said “we look forward to understanding what’s going on here.”
The city manager, however, “seemed like it was not a big deal,” the resident’s Oct. 24 email claims. “And still to date nothing has been done.”
Gonzales disputed that assessment.
“Mr. Smith, actually quite a bit has been done,” Gonzales responded in an Oct. 24 email. “Other agencies have already been brought in and are also looking into issues that fall within their purview. I am unable to share and am not even privy to much of the information, related to confidential review.”
However, Gonzales added in the email, city officials have been told that the owner of KC Playroom has indicated that the club will close at the end of the year.
“We don’t know if that will happen, but we are in communication with other agencies that are working on this issue,” she wrote.
An area business owner, whom sources have identified as the operator of KC Playroom, did not immediately respond to an interview request.
Rainey added Friday that “to date, the representations of KC Playroom are that the space is leased for private party purposes, as compared to any business, trade, occupation, or other profit business activity.”
“The activity is represented as private activity occurring solely within the confines of private property, which is not open to the public,” Rainey added.
Based on those representations, he said, city ordinances regulating adult entertainment do not apply. And because there is no alcohol being sold, Rainey said, city ordinances regulating nudity on premises licensed to sell alcohol do not cover the club.