Town Gets Plan For Move Of Club Ridley Commissioners Hope An Agreement Will Be Signed On Tuesday. The Strip Bar May Go To An Industrial Zone.

Posted: November 16, 2000

The attorney for Smiley's adult-entertainment club has delivered a final proposed agreement to Ridley Township that would move the controversial exotic-dancing club to an industrial-zoned site next to Boeing Helicopters - a relocation opposed by that company.

At least one township official said he was hopeful that an agreement will be approved at the Board of Commissioners' meeting Tuesday.

After three hours of extensive phone negotiations yesterday between township officials and the owners of Smiley's, Rocco Imperatrice, attorney for Smiley's, said, "It became apparent the two sides weren't as far apart as earlier communications would have indicated. It was a fruitful meeting, which resulted, ultimately, in the generation of what my clients hope will be the final agreement."

Imperatrice has asked for "written assurance" no later than Monday that the township commissioners would sign the agreement at or before their Tuesday meeting.

"We've been in this position before," Imperatrice said. "I can't be anything other than cautiously optimistic."

Yesterday, Madelyn Bush, a spokeswoman for Boeing - which has made clear its opposition to having Smiley's as a neighbor - said: "We're still assessing our options."

Ridley Commissioner Jack Whelan, who has participated in negotiations to move Smiley's from its current location in a Crum Lynne residential neighborhood to a site on Industrial Highway, said that the township is aware of Boeing's concerns but that the site is zoned industrial, which allows adult entertainment.

One of the critical issues for the owners of Smiley's was a firm agreement by the township to acquire the current premises, Imperatrice said.

Whalen said the township did not have the money to buy out the current Smiley's location, but hoped to secure grant funds to purchase the property and eventually turn it into a park.

The proposed agreement gives the township two years to obtain the grant funds necessary to acquire the property, Imperatrice said. If the township could not obtain grant funds, it would condemn the property by September 2002, he said.

Without an assurance regarding the current site, it was financially impossible for the owners to move ahead with development of a new location, Imperatrice said.

The commissioners are expected to hold another executive session tonight to discuss the agreement.

Smiley's has been opposed by residents in Crum Lynne since it opened in June 1999.

Yesterday, Betty Howanski, one of the residents who regularly pickets the club, said: "We hope and pray it's the last step. . . . We have full confidence in them resolving it."

Mary Anne Janco's e-mail address is mjanco@phillynews.com

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