WKYT Investigates UPDATE | ‘Under review’: New Lexington strip club remains in limbo

Owners will have to overcome zoning obstacles before the business can open its doors.
The building located at 987 Winchester Road in Lexington. It has housed several clubs in recent...
The building located at 987 Winchester Road in Lexington. It has housed several clubs in recent years.(WKYT)
Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 3:30 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new strip club hoping to open in Lexington is stuck on another snag, even as it already faces continued public opposition to its plans.

The owners of Trifecta Gentleman’s Club have applied for a liquor license and a certificate of occupancy for the building at 987 Winchester Road. But, as WKYT Investigates has reported, the plan is controversial because of repeated violent incidents on that block over the past few years, which neighbors, other business owners and investigators have previously tied to crowds gathering in the area late at night.

[MORE: WKYT Investigates | Pattern of problems: Neighbors concerned as new strip club eyes site of multiple shootings]

The prospective club’s liquor license application is still currently “under review” by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, WKYT has confirmed.

And zoning issues that have held up the business’s progress for nearly two months now could also put its plans in jeopardy - or at least provide its owners with yet another obstacle to overcome before they can open its doors.

The stretch of Winchester Road that includes the parcel for 987 is zoned B-3 (Highway Service Business). The zoning ordinance lists 31 acceptable principal uses - including things like restaurants, nightclubs, banks, beauty shops, offices, hotels or motels, and gas stations.

Near the bottom of the list are mentioned what are generally considered “adult uses”: adult arcades, massage parlors, adult bookstores, adult video stores, adult cabarets, adult dancing establishments, adult entertainment establishments and sexual entertainment centers. But the provision for adult businesses also includes some specific conditions.

None shall be located either:

  • within a 500-foot radius of any agricultural or residential zone, any elementary or secondary school, or any park attended by persons under 18 years of age
  • or within a 1,000-foot radius of any other similarly regulated adult business.

The building at 987 Winchester Road, however, does not appear to meet those conditions.

As part of the city’s zoning plan review of the business’s application for a certificate of occupancy, planners noted that an existing adult use is located approximately 195 feet away at 933 Winchester Road - in violation of Article 8-20(b)(26) of the zoning ordinance.

The processing status, as of Dec. 12, of the certificate of occupancy for 987 Winchester Road...
The processing status, as of Dec. 12, of the certificate of occupancy for 987 Winchester Road in Lexington.(Screenshot)

(That may not be the only hitch; two other adult businesses are also on the same block, and the Lexington Manor neighborhood - zoned R1-D - sits just across a narrow alley from the property of 987 Winchester Road.)

The building has housed a strip club before.

Adult businesses located there before the ordinance went into effect would be allowed to remain in operation there, planning officials explained, and even new adult businesses going into the same property could still be allowed to operate if the building was deemed to have been in “continuous use” as an adult business.

However, Jim Duncan, Lexington’s director of planning, told WKYT’s Garrett Wymer last month that because the previous adult business located at 987 Winchester Road ceased operations, the address lost its legacy exemption. The new strip club’s owners dispute this finding, Duncan said, so city leaders have asked them for evidence of continuous use of the property as an adult business.

It is unclear at this time whether any evidence has been provided.

Pending any finding to the contrary that would supersede the planning department’s current interpretation, Trifecta would have to ask the Board of Adjustments for a variance in order for it to be able to operate as a strip club in compliance with the ordinance.

That would require the owners to submit an application that explains the reasons why the variance should be granted. This would begin another process that would require a legal notice to be sent to businesses, renters and homeowners within the area to notify them of the application and of the opportunity for a public hearing to voice their feedback.

As of Monday afternoon, it does not appear that an application for a variance has been filed, according to an online search of Lexington’s planning records database.

Residents and business owners have vocally opposed the arrival of a new strip club to the area, expressing concerns that late-night crowds could fuel more violence in an area that has experienced more than a dozen shootings over the past few years.

The staunch opposition has arisen not against the business specifically, but against what it could mean for an area plagued by violence and crime. For years, people in the neighborhood directly behind several businesses along Winchester Road have cited the nearby nightlife (with several locations on the block being open late and attracting crowds) as a contributing factor for ongoing problems.

Some, along with city officials, have pushed for redevelopment and rezoning of the corridor.