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Donald Klunk violated a court order that barred him from having strippers at his Cashmere club in Lower Windsor Township, and in November, a judge ordered the place locked. Now Klunk is trying to figure out what he can do with the building.<br />&middot; <a href="http://w2.ydr.com/forms/sendPhoto.php?photo=31857">E-mail photo</a><br />&middot; <a href="http://ydr.mycapture.com/mycapture/lookup.asp?originalname=122707-JP-Don-Klunk_001.jpg">Order photo reprint</a><br />
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Dec 30, 2007 — Women wearing stockings, high heels and thong bikinis sashayed around the club near Niagara Falls, Canada, but Don Klunk had eyes for something else.

He gazed at the ceiling, counting tiles. He stepped into the bathroom to see how many urinals were there. He held out his hand to estimate how high the stage was off the floor.

While he had been sitting at a table, sipping a bottle of Molson Ice, surrounded by his brother and friends, it had come to him.

He could do this in York County.

A strip club.

Yeah.

A good honest living.

Make a lot of money.

In Canada, you could put it in the same row as a day care, school and church.

'Course in York County, things would be a little different. Religious people might have a problem with it, and the county's got that small-town way of thinking.

But he'd fix that. He'd put it far away from anything else, but still close to main roads.

Back in York County, Klunk went to see his then-attorney, George Eveler, about his idea.

Oh, man, it isn't gonna be easy, Klunk recalled Eveler saying.

"This is going to be something new, different and clean for York," Klunk said.

Well, why don't you go to Lower Windsor Township? They don't have zoning there, Eveler said.


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It sounded like something he could get done. Klunk, 54, had been labeled a loser earlier in his life, but his tenacity had helped him succeed.

Five years later, Klunk sat in his York Township home, the table nearby piled high with legal documents.

He sank $2 million into his dream. And more recently, he spent a 15-day hitch at York County Prison. His club is now padlocked, and he doesn't know when - or if - it will be unlocked.

Getting started

In 2002, Klunk cashed in his life savings to buy seven wooded acres in a small valley, in the 4600 block of East Prospect Road.

Not long after that, Klunk went to the township office and spoke with Township Secretary Linda Zimmerman and then-Zoning Officer Shannon Sinopoli.

Klunk's friend, Troy Raver of Springettsbury Township, came along.

I'm planning on opening a social club in the township, Klunk said he told Zimmerman. With nude entertainment. Is there anything saying I can't do that?

"Well, that kind of shocked her, 'cause she's in the middle of the country and no one ever did that," Klunk said. "She said, 'Well, there's no zoning and it's not against the law.'"

Next, Klunk and Raver saw Township Police Chief David Sterner.

Sterner said that while Klunk wouldn't be seeing him at the Cashmere - at least not as a patron - he would help out with any rowdies, Raver said in a document presented to the township's zoning hearing board, filed by Klunk's former lawyer, John A. Mateyak.

But Sterner had a different take on the conversation.

"When they first came into my office, they proposed it as a social club ... My definition of a social club is not a strip joint," he said.

Sterner said he remembered Klunk saying something about "dancing girls," but his reaction was not to overreact, but to "wait until it's in writing."

The chief added that he would police the club - if it was approved - just like any other establishment in the township.

News of a club opening in the township featuring women taking their clothes off "went around like wildfire," Klunk said.

Each time Klunk would stop by the township office, Zimmerman would tell him about the calls she had received from enraged residents.

Klunk didn't get it - if it was within the law, what was the problem?

"We ain't touchin,'" he said. "I don't think it's lust because it's God's creation ... everybody should have the right to see it."

Building the dream

In March 2004, the Lower Windsor Township Board of Supervisors approved Klunk's land development plan.

Time to get working.

Klunk laid cinderblocks until his arms gave out, sheared off the tip of his left thumb with a utility knife and broke the toes in his right foot when a pipe fell on it.

He didn't care if the building wasn't pretty; matter of fact, it might be mistaken for a lock-up if you were to put a fence around it.

Inside, Klunk put in mirrors, a stage, and dancing poles.

He built "The Cancer Booth," a 12-by-12 foot glassed-in box where smokers could go when it got too cold outside.

A relative of Klunk's suggested he put a pair of eyes on his roadside sign and call the place Cashmere, to give it an air of sophistication.

Klunk had wanted to name it "Klunky's" like Porky's, the 1982 movie about a strip club in Florida.

He went with his relative's ideas.

The eyes on the sign are those that beckon, black-lashed and feline.

"To me, they're sexy eyes," he said. "I ain't gonna start a business with sad-lookin' eyes."

But the eyes may have served as a beacon for those who wanted to rid the township of the coming club.

The fire department sent out a truck when a caller reported a fire on the property. Turns out Klunk was just burning tree stumps. The township billed him about $250 for the call, he said.

Then someone called the township saying Klunk was pouring concrete. You can't pour concrete without a building permit, something he didn't have at the time. He was digging the hole where the concrete would be poured, he said.

Still, an inspector was called out and Klunk was charged for the visit, he said.

Lessons learned?

Klunk said he should have learned not to mess with city hall back when he was kid.

His father, Paul Klunk, a grocery store butcher, put up a 6-foot-high wooden fence to protect his children from their neighbor's dog.

West York officials told him to tear it down, saying its height violated a borough ordinance.

Paul Klunk hired a lawyer to challenge the borough and eventually won, Klunk said.

Still, his father paid a price.

"He was angry about it," Klunk said. "He didn't like the idea that he had to work all day and leave his family (to go to meetings) and spend all this money because somebody didn't agree with him and he wasn't doing nothing wrong."

Klunk's parents fueled him with a strong work ethic - he got his first job as a newspaper delivery boy at 12. Even so, they told him, "You're not too smart," because he was "bull-headed," he said.

Nuns at his grade school declared him "learning disabled." He insists he was just hyperactive.

His high school teachers looked at his 5-foot 6-inch, 140-pound frame, he said, and told him, "You'll never make it as a mason."

But years later, Klunk was running two masonry crews and developed an 18-lot subdivision in York Township in the 1980s.

He retired in the 1990s. That is, until his brother won a free trip to Canada. In his late 40s, Klunk was a strip club virgin.

But one time was all it took for Klunk to throw himself headlong into it.

Total control

In 2005, the township did not renew his building permit, meaning, in the county's eyes, that the building was now done, which saddled Klunk with taxes.

But the township had not given Klunk permission to open Cashmere.

Sinopoli rejected Klunk's application for a zoning use certificate, because the uses Klunk listed on his plan - office, retail, service, social club and rooming house - did not fit his intended use of adult entertainment, according to court records.

"If I'm getting charged $15,000 a year (in taxes)... I felt I was grandfathered, so I opened," he said.

Klunk thought about how he'd sunk his life savings into the building, damaged his body to get it done ... and now they were saying a social club can't be a strip club?

Well, they could do what they had to do. He was going to do what he had to do.

Strippers debuted at the Cashmere Social Club in March 2006.

With patrons, he was the enforcer, making copies of their IDs as they walked inside.

If you're in the club and you start something, he said, "I know who you are."

There were no spotlights at the Cashmere, only black lights and whirling colored disco balls, to hide the lines that creased the girls' faces, Klunk said.

With his strippers, he had to be the rooster in what he calls "the hen house."

He fired one for shooting cocaine between her toes. Then there was the girl who stabbed the guy in his face with her high heel for allegedly touching her during a private dance, he said.

Klunk said he got lucky on that one - he thought a lawsuit was looming from the guy.

There were also problems outside the club. Someone threw a piece of wood at his '47 Chevy pickup parked near the road, scratching the hood, he said.

Two weeks later, someone launched a rock through the truck's windshield.

In full swing

Cashmere got popular pretty quick, Raver said.

"Popular? It was blown out," he said. "The place was packed. ... It was something that everybody wanted."

Well, maybe not everybody.

In a Daily Record story in May 2006, Lower Windsor Township resident Brad Lippy said that while Klunk was building, "there was some confusion about whether it was a strip mall or a strip club."

Until he saw ol' "sexy eyes" batting her lashes on Cashmere's sign.

"My wife and I were talking about it, and it's clear it's not a mall. ... to promote that type of thing in my neighborhood, I don't appreciate it," Lippy said.

Jeanie Grim, 49, of Hellam Township, who attended church in Lower Windsor Township, said in the same story she was worried the club might "break up homes."

Also in May 2006, police raided Cashmere, tipped off to possible state liquor code violations, Sterner said.

"They didn't find any drugs, sex toys, porn or underage drinking," Klunk said.

True, but they cited patrons because there were more 20 people drinking alcohol while a stripper was in the same room.

Sterner said he later dropped the charges when he heard of a circuit court overturning arrests in a similar case.

The chief said he caught flack for what he did, but said pursuing it might appear heavy-handed.

But that was not the end of the obstacles for Klunk and the Cashmere.

Township officials were drafting a zoning ordinance.

A judge's wrath

The 2003 law had been challenged by the Kohr family, owners of Lauxmont Farms, who said the township didn't follow the correct procedures in enacting it. A county judge agreed, and struck down the law.

Klunk wasn't naive enough to think that the township had forgotten him.

"I knew they were trying to do whatever they could to fix up their mess-up," he said.

By February 2007, the township had its new zoning law. It prohibited nude entertainment except in an industrial district (and only then by special exception); Cashmere is in a village district.

But Klunk had two appeals before county common pleas Judge Sheryl Ann Dorney - first, that the term social club can include nude entertainment.

And second, that the township's 2003 law is void ab incio, meaning it was never valid, because of the law enacted in 2007. Klunk had opened his club in 2006.

"Six comes before seven," Klunk said.

Dorney hasn't ruled on the appeals, but in July she ordered Klunk could not have nude entertainment at Cashmere because it violated the township's newly-passed zoning law.

Klunk was left with a barren club, and no strippers. He'd get less than a dozen guys who'd stop by to down a beer, and he'd pop in a Playboy video for them, he said.

But according to township officials, Klunk had been doing more than that behind Cashmere's front door.

On Nov. 9, Klunk was ordered to court, where a private investigator testified he visited the Cashmere in October and November, and on both occasions, saw women stripping and received lap dances. Once, he said, he handed Klunk the $30 fee for it.

Klunk said later he didn't really have a choice but to hold "bikini contests."

"I got bills ... I did it to make money," he said. "I told them to keep their clothes on ... You can't see what you can't see."

Township lawyers said it was Klunk, wearing a hat, in a video the investigator filmed.

Klunk at first said, "I have a hat like that," but when Dorney pressed him, he said yes, it was him. Still, Klunk said on the stand that he did not witness anything that would violate the judge's order.

She ordered Klunk to pay the township's legal fees and the cost of its investigation, sentenced him to 15 days in prison for contempt of court and told sheriff's deputies to padlock the Cashmere.

Into the dirt

During 15 days in York County Prison, Klunk had time to think.

His mind careened back to his mother, who gave birth to 10 children and died at 39 from ovarian cancer.

"Life isn't fair," she had told him.

He ruminated about his father, and his fight with borough officials, a man just trying to protect his children, standing up for what he believed in.

He thought about selling the building, but it was his home, more than his real home was. He placed nearly every brick, worked "dawn to dusk" as he said often.

He got out of prison in late November, drove to the Cashmere and found the sheriff's deputies' locks still on it.

"I can't even get into my own building that I'm paying taxes on," he said.

In the weeks since, he tried to think of other things he could put in there.

Maybe a teen café. Or a flea market.

"I gotta do what I can to survive," he said.

Raver said the problem with the whole situation was that the township underestimated Klunk.

"They never thought that Donald would build this facility and finish it," he said. "When it got close to completion, they panicked."

Lower Windsor Township manager Kelly Kelch does not see what the township did as "panicking," rather, it was reacting to Klunk's misrepresentation of how he was going to use his facility.

"We were not reacting because he's doing something he said he was going to do, we were reacting because he's doing something other than what he said he was going to do," Kelch said.

In turn, Klunk said he may have sold short the township. He didn't think they'd enact a zoning ordinance to try to stop him, or hire a private investigator with a button-hole camera.

And now, his fight with the township is his obsession. It's all he talks about, Raver said.

"This thing drove him into the dirt," Raver said. "Now he's a frickin' wreck."

Klunk bristles when asked if he thinks there is the possibility he might win either of his appeals. He forces out, "I hope that there's still justice."

In October, before the court date that ended with his jail sentence, he sat in his club, smiled and said patrons call him "the Larry Flynt of York County."

Like Flynt, the longtime publisher of Hustler magazine, Klunk finds himself embroiled in a legal battle over what he perceives are violations of his rights.

He wants to call Flynt, maybe just for some encouraging words.

He could use those right now.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm the biggest idiot in the world," he said. "Nobody wants to stand up for their beliefs anymore."

Reach Ted Czech at 771-2033 or tczech@ydr.com.

Cashmere timeline

2002: Don Klunk buys a seven-acre property in the 4600 block of East Prospect Road in Lower Windsor Township. He talks with the township about starting a club with nude entertainment.

Sept. 4, 2002: Klunk files a land development plan with Lower Windsor Township, listing his uses as "office, retail, service, social club and rooming house."

April 2003: Lower Windsor Township adopts a zoning law. It states that adult-regulated facilities are allowed only in the township's industrial district and only by special exception. Klunk's club is in a village district. The township adopts a second zoning law in July 2003.

May 2003: The Kohr family, owners of Lauxmont Farms, challenges the township's zoning law, saying that 45 days did not pass between a second submission of the law to the York County Planning Commission and the hearing on the proposed ordinance. The Kohrs said that was a violation of the state Municipalities Planning Code. In June 2004, a York County Court judge ruled in favor of the Kohrs. The township appealed and, in February 2005, a Commonwealth judge upheld the decision.

March 11, 2004: Lower Windsor Township Board of Supervisors approves Klunk's land development plan.

April-May 2004: Klunk applies four times for a building/zoning permit with the township, the first three of which were denied. The fourth was approved May 10, 2004.

Feb. 20, 2006: Klunk signs the use/occupancy application. The certificate of use/occupancy is issued to him March 8, 2006.

March 2006: Township Zoning Officer Shannon Sinopoli refused to issue a zoning use certificate to Klunk, saying that his Land Development Plan did not include his intended use, which she classified as an "adult regulated use."

May 2006: Police raid the club, arresting people for violating a state liquor code that states there cannot be more than 20 people drinking alcohol in the same room with a nude dancer. The same month, there is a fight at the club during which a woman is punched and robbed of her purse.

February 2007: Lower Windsor Township adopts its third zoning law.

May-March 2007: Public hearings on the "instant application" are held before the Lower Windsor Township Zoning Hearing Board.

March 15, 2007: The township zoning hearing board decides against Klunk's appeal. Klunk appeals the ruling in York County Court of Common Pleas.

July 2007: York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Sheryl Ann Dorney orders Klunk not to offer any nude entertainment at the Cashmere.

Nov. 9, 2007: Klunk appears before Dorney to face evidence from the township that he violated her order. The judge finds that he has, and also finds him in contempt of court for lying about it while under oath. She sentences him to 15 days in York County Prison, has the Cashmere padlocked and orders him to pay for the cost of the township's investigation.

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Profile

Name: Donald Klunk

Age: 54

Home: York Township

Background: Grew up in York County. Went to St.Rose of Lima and York County Vo-Tech; eventually oversaw masonry crews, and became a developer.

At issue: Klunk has spent $2million building a strip club in Lower Windsor Township. The township enacted zoning that prohibits strip clubs, but Klunk said it should not apply to his business because he opened a year before the zoning law was adopted. The township says that in permit applications, Klunk misrepresented what type of business the Cashmere club was going to be. A York County judge ruled he could not have nude entertainment there, and sent him to jail when he defied the order.

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