Glover Park residents say they just want the female dancers at a popular Wisconsin Avenue nightclub to keep their clothes on.

They also say they thought they were forcing the issue when they submitted more than 100 signatures weeks ago in support of a petition asking the city not to renew a liquor license for J.P.'s, 2412 Wisconsin Ave. NW. The petition alleged, among other things, that the nightspot offered inappropriate entertainment, was hurting property values and was exacerbating parking problems in the neighborhood.

"This is not a place for a nude bar," said Sophia P. Henry, who lives on nearby Huidekoper Place NW. "This is a neighborhood shopping area. This is not a downtown area."

Early this month, however, Adam Levy, the neighbor who initiated the petition, suddenly withdrew it. Neighbors said he told them he also signed an agreement with J.P.'s not to pursue the matter further.

Levy's action, they said, renders their letters useless, and worse, it's now too late to submit another petition. City officials confirmed that the deadline has passed for submitting a petition asking the city not to renew J.P.'s liquor license.

Residents said Levy told them that the bar's attorneys threatened to take him and several other residents to court if they continued to fight the license. James G. Charles, attorney for J.P.'s, said he wrote them that he would file suit if J.P.'s was denied its license, because the charges about property values and parking were "false statements."

This week Levy refused to comment on why he withdrew the petition other than to say, "I just didn't know when there would be any end in sight . . . . It's withdrawn and I've put it behind me."

Opponents said they do not want to force the bar out of business but feel compelled to protect their stretch of Wisconsin Avenue, which in recent years has become increasingly popular as a site for restaurants.

Neighborhood leaders said they had felt empowered to get rid of nude entertainment in their area by city regulations that went into effect about two years ago, giving residents more say about whether establishments near them get or keep liquor licenses.

With many two-year licenses coming up for renewal, neighborhoods across the city are using the regulations to get businesses to do everything from clean up alleys to stop serving liquor to people who are drunk.

Efforts to use the regulations to stop nude dancing began earlier this year when ANC commissioners in Dupont Circle voted to fight a license renewal for the Royal Palace, a longtime nude bar on Connecticut Avenue NW. A hearing on that license is set for August.

Some business owners, including James Papanicolas at J.P.'s, complain that residents are trying to use the new regulations to put them out of business.

"We don't generate any trouble for the neighborhood," Papanicolas said. "Our place is very conservative."

He said the club opened as a neighborhood bar in 1985 and added nude dancing when it appeared its business was foundering.

"I had to look for something that was going to be a viable alternative," he said.

A frustrated group of residents met Monday night to mourn the defeat and discuss options.

"This kind of place leads on to worse things rather than better things," said Robert H. Mead, a member of the Glover Park Citizens Association. "It attracts the kind of people who cause trouble."

Papanicolas said he would do whatever is necessary to protect his business.

"All I know is we worked out an agreement, and {Levy} withdrew his petition," he said. "I told him that I would have to defend myself in court . . . . My whole life is tied up in that business."