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Destin residents discuss allowing a strip club

The City of Destin has been in discussions about plans for a strip club since 2008.

That's when Atlanta businessman, Terry Stephenson, first proposed the idea.
But Destin city leaders tried to block it, and Stephenson sued on first amendment grounds.
The city settled out of court, allowing Stephenson to build in an industrial zone on Airport Road.   
But in 2010, Stephenson was shot and killed outside a club he owned in Atlanta.

The strip club fell off the radar until Stephenson's surviving company renewed the efforts to build the club last year.
The city questioned whether the deal they had with Stephenson was still good, and the two sides squared off in federal court a few weeks ago.

The two sides again reached an agreement to avoid a longer court battle, but details of the deal were never released.   

Tonight, the Destin City Council held a meeting to vote on the deal, and our Rob Brown was there.     

The debate over whether or not to accept a settlement with an Atlanta company that wants to put a strip club in Destin has been heating up for months. But on Monday evening, the Destin City Council reached their decision in only a matter of minutes.
 
A crowd gathered well before the meeting.

Sonya Grant "You know, we're just hoping for the best for the community, and that kind of business is going to really cause some deterioration."

The majority seemed in favor of rejecting the settlement.

Kelly Haeusler "They don't have to do that. They can say no. I don't know what the whole controversy is. Say no. It's easy."

The meeting was held in three parts.
First, the council informed the well over one hundred in attendance about the procedures.
The public was then dismissed for a private council session to discuss strategy with city attorneys.
They took less than an hour to reach a decision.

The city council decided to reject the settlement.
The crowd broke into a standing ovation.

Michael Tucker "I love Destin. It's not the DNA for our city, so I'm extremely pleased on the council's decision, and can't thank them enough."

Michael Tucker says fighting the company is best for Destin.

Michael Tucker "It was a great victory for them as well, because they were standing up in the midst of a lot of uncertainty in how this is all going to go."

Patti Terjak says those against the club must continue their fight.

Patti Terjak "I know a lot of the people thought that that was the end, that the settlement was not accepted so this thing is over. This is not over by any means or any stretch of the imagination."

Now the next step in this process will see the case kicked back up to a federal level. In Destin, Rob Brown, Channel Three News.