NORA SPRINGS — Brianne Henkes said she was walking with her cousin from her apartment to Casey’s across the street last month when she received an unsolicited request.
A bouncer for the Pole Barn Theater, operated by Dale Peterson, approached the two.
“His bouncer asked me to go in and strip,” said Henkes, 36. “I said, ‘No, no, I live upstairs.’ And he said, ‘So?’”
Henkes and her two daughters, Brynn, 5, and McKenna, 7, have lived in the apartment since August. Henkes is a stay-at-home single mom.
When she moved in the bar space below her apartment was vacant. There are four apartments above what is now the exotic dance club; three are occupied.
“It was cheap; it was within my budget,” she said. “I had to do some work to it, but I made it home.”
Henkes patched up walls, hung pictures and curtains and even repaired plumbing when she moved into the two-bedroom apartment that overlooks Hawkeye Avenue. It’s $375 a month, utilities included.
Shortly before her children’s Christmas break in December, Henkes found out Peterson had viewed the building and was considering renting it.
“My landlord wouldn’t say anything. He just kept saying ‘I don’t know,’” she said.
Rumors were circulating through town Peterson’s business would be a “juice bar.” Eventually, she asked Peterson what his business would be — and he showed her the floor where the dancers would perform.
“I was immediately mad,” she said.
Her young daughters are well aware of the establishment downstairs, whose patrons sometimes litter her apartment’s entrance with beer cans.
“They know what it is, they hear everything and they know exactly what that sign is,” Henkes said. “You can hear him on the microphone announcing dancers, and the girls hollering, the people are thumping on the floor and bar top.”
With Peterson’s renovations to the bar, construction noise sometimes wakes them up at 6 a.m.
Henkes, who has epilepsy and suffers from grand mal seizures, has a service dog. She says the noise bothers the dog as well.
“You can hear everybody hootin’ and hollering, you can feel my bed shake, you can feel my kids’ bed shake,” Henkes said.
After the first night the Pole Barn Theater opened, Henkes and her children have stayed at her mother’s house.
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“That’s kind of sad that I have to leave my home,” Henkes said. “The first night, I didn’t get to bed until 3:30 a.m. and my girls couldn’t sleep. They kept waking up because of the vibrations on their bed.”
Kevin Wedeking, a Charles City High School industrial tech teacher, is listed on Floyd County property records as the owner of the building. On Feb. 18, he posted on his personal Facebook page he had sold the building and had “no ties to what may be happening there.”
As of Friday, no paperwork to change the deed has been filed with the county assessor or the county recorder’s offices.
Peterson previously said he was leasing the building with the option to buy.
Wedeking referred questions to his attorney, who didn’t immediately respond to a message requesting comment.
Henkes said she paid her rent to Wedeking on Friday by depositing directly into his bank account.
She said she has no problem with strip clubs, but the proximity to her family — and Peterson having been convicted of sex crimes — concerns her.
In Minnesota, Peterson was convicted in 1996 for using a minor as a nude dancer and in 2003 for promoting prostitution.
Henkes said Wedeking told her Peterson could potentially become her landlord.
She’s been looking for housing ever since but hasn’t found anything yet.
Michelle Lindgren, who owns Photography by Michelle next door to the Pole Barn Theater, told City Council members Thursday she can’t operate past 6 p.m. She’s posted a sign telling people to not enter that area.
“My picture frames start rattling,” she said. “I’ve been able to stay open for years.”
The City Council on Thursday passed a zoning amendment involving adult-orientated businesses that restricts sexually-orientated places from operating within 300 feet of each other or from schools, day cares, churches, City Hall and bus stops.
Other concerned residents spoke during a public hearing on the zoning amendment, mostly expressing frustration with the situation.
“You have to understand, you can’t just run a business out of town,” council member Steven Blickenderfer said.
Peterson said late last month he wouldn’t be affected by the proposed zoning changes and believed he will be successful in town.
“I understand that I live above a bar; bars and restaurants are different,” Henkes said. “It’s a problem with what it is. A 5-year-old and a 7-year-old should not have to hear any of that, see any of that, deal with any of that.”