Struggling mining town rejects nude dancing

CHICAGO Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:39am EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Voters in the town of Lead, South Dakota, rejected a proposal on Tuesday that would have allowed nude dancing at bars in its historic downtown, a move supporters had said would give an economic boost to the struggling mining town.

The proposed easing of the state's adult entertainment law was defeated by a vote of 535-303, Lead City Commissioner Casey Borsch said in a phone interview. He characterized turnout for the referendum as "considerably higher" than normal.

State law in South Dakota already permits nude dancing in bars -- provided it does not take place within a quarter-mile of any residence, business or community gathering place.

But city commissioners in Lead, a town of about 3,000 near Deadwood in the Black Hills, voted in January to adopt a more lenient standard, eliminating the quarter-mile rule for their city by means of a special ordinance.

The commission acted after the owners of the Wild Thing Saloon on Main Street, located a few blocks from the town's opera house and public library, brought in nude dancers for two days in December to see how popular it would be.

The event reportedly drew hundreds of extra visitors into Lead, best known as the site of the Homestake gold mine.

Opponents of the easing, which the commission passed 3-2, gathered enough signatures to put the ordinance to a public vote. On Tuesday, they prevailed.

Once the largest and deepest mine in the Western Hemisphere, Lead's Homestake mine ceased production and closed in 2002. Scientific researchers now use it to conduct research into neutrinos and other cosmic particles. But the facility no longer employs anywhere near as many local workers.

In 1989, the nearby town of Deadwood legalized gambling, a move that created a two-decade-long boom and generated millions of dollars in taxes and fees, according to the state.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher. Editing by Peter Bohan)

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