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Northwest ND bar gets OK for topless dancing event

MINOT, N.D. (AP) -- A topless dancer tradition on the opening weekend of deer hunting season in the small northwest North Dakota town of Foxholm will continue, though some county leaders wonder if their blessing sets a bad precedent.

MINOT, N.D. (AP) -- A topless dancer tradition on the opening weekend of deer hunting season in the small northwest North Dakota town of Foxholm will continue, though some county leaders wonder if their blessing sets a bad precedent.

The Ward County Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to grant a permit to the Hunter's Den, which has hosted the exotic dancing event the past 15 years. An earlier vote had ended in a 2-2 tie with one commissioner absent.

No one had publicly questioned the Hunter's Den event, but this year new owner Grace Delling approached the county commission about a permit. The group in September had denied a similar permit for potential new owners of a restaurant near Burlington after some people in the area objected, and Delling told the Minot Daily News that she did not want to run afoul of the law.

Commissioner Jack Nybakken said the request for the Burlington business was a different situation, with neighborhood objections and the club's plans to host exotic dancers regularly.

"In this situation, it's important to note two things," he said. "The residents and neighbors in the Foxholm area all seem to be very supportive, and the fact that we have not put together an ordinance that would prohibit (the permits) from being granted."

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Commissioner Jerome Gruenberg questioned the ramifications of granting the Hunter's Den a permit.

"We turned down one application for the same thing," he said. "You can call it what you want, strippers are strippers. Whether it's one day or it's every day, strippers are strippers. In this case, if we grant this, it opens the door."

Commission Chairman Bruce Christianson, who had been absent during the earlier vote, broke the tie in favor of granting a permit.

"The rule of the day is that I find the application in order, and I'm a firm believer that government should be of laws rather than of men," he said. "This is an objective decision, and I find everything in order."

North Dakota's 2010 deer gun season opens Nov. 5 at noon.

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