The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up
Tod Hunter
CONNECTICUT

Prank Leads to Adult Business Moratorium

SIMSBURY, Conn. — A discussion among officials that occurred in the wake of a prank has resulted in a temporary ban on adult-oriented businesses in Simsbury.

Officials stated that during an incident last year, an unidentified person posted a display in the window of an abandoned car dealership announcing the arrival of an adult business. Although the announcement was a hoax, the incident sparked a series of calls to the Office of the First Selectman from concerned residents that culminated in official discussions by the Zoning Commission.

The commission proposed an amendment to local zoning regulations defining adult-oriented uses and allowing for an eight-month moratorium on them. During a meeting on Jan. 5, the commission approved the moratorium following a public hearing marked by absolutely no public comment.

The town does not currently have zoning regulations regarding adult businesses in place. It has submitted an application to change its own regulations.

"This may be the quickest public hearing we have ever had," said Garrett Delehanty Jr., who serves as the secretary for the commission.

Planning Director Hiram Peck said the effective starting date of the moratorium will be 15 days after it is published. He estimated it would start as early as the middle of January.

Officials stated the intent was to allow the town of Simsbury a brief period to study adult usage as a separate use category and determine how these businesses affect the general community. They stated the town did not intend to control free speech or expression and wanted the study to be only as encompassing as necessary.

The amendment defines adult-oriented uses and applies to business, industrial and flood plain zones, as well as the Simsbury Center Zone, for its duration.

Administrative Services Director Brandon Robertson stated last month the town was discussing its plans with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. He also said the proposal was based on court-tested models. The Board of Selectmen would not take any action on the ordinance until after the commission took action, he stated.

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FLORIDA

City Council Passes New Rules for Strip Clubs

DESTIN, Fla. — City officials are revising their view on topless nightclubs after the management of the Oasis Pool Hall in Destin applied for a business license in November to feature a nude dancing venue.

The city denied the request, citing city zoning laws, so bar managers filed a federal lawsuit. The city has now passed an ordinance making it more difficult for the Oasis to follow through on the plans.

Managers at the Oasis Pool Hall aren't giving up hope that their business will eventually be an adult entertainment club, but Destin city officials say they are doing everything in their power to make sure that never happens.

Earlier this week the city council passed an ordinance that prohibits the sale of alcohol in adult venues. It also limits hours of operation, and requires a six-foot buffer between entertainers and patrons.

Greg Kisela, Destin city manager, said, "What that does is reduces the secondary adverse affects from an adult industry in our community."

The city has also hired a lawyer from Orlando, who, officials say, is the premier attorney for these types of cases.

The bar owner's attorney says he hopes all parties can reach a compromise.

"We are trying to work closely with the city planners, city management," the attorney said. "And it's our firm belief that the city needs at least one strip club to withstand constitutional challenges down the road."

Destin's city manager disagrees.

"We don't agree that we have to have one to demonstrate that we're protective of the freedom of speech."

City officials expect the legal battle will wind up in court in mid-February.

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MAINE

Town OKs Topless Coffee Shop

VASSALBORO, Maine — Vassalboro’s planning board has approved an application for a coffee shop with topless waitresses despite opposition by citizens who spoke at its meeting.

Local businessman Donald Crabtree plans to open the topless cafe within 30 days on busy Route 3.

Planners said the central Maine town has no ordinance to regulate businesses’ uniforms — or lack of them. They said that Crabtree's proposal met the town’s 10 performance standards, which are mostly related to safety, parking, traffic and signs.

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WISCONSIN

Commission Trying to OK Strip Club Expansion

CLEARWATER LAKE, Wis. — The Oneida County Planning and Zoning Committee is still trying to find a way to allow a Clearwater Lake businessman to legally expand his exotic dance club.

On Wednesday, zoning staff presented new language to the zoning committee, and to Weasel’s Exotic Entertainment owner Don Dal Ponte, that they believe will allow Dal Ponte to expand his business. Dal Ponte had a permit to expand his business approved in the late 1990s but was unable to finish the job due to a serious illness. Since that time the county, prompted by a hubbub over the opening of an adult novelty store in Hazelhurst, enacted new rules for adult businesses.

The new adult business ordinance, enacted in February 2006, prohibits Dal Ponte from expanding his club.

Since hearing Dal Ponte’s story, the committee has been adamant about finding a way to allow his expansion project, but has been frustrated in its efforts to help Dal Ponte because legal counsel has advised that the club cannot be expanded: the activities that take place inside it are considered a “legal pre-existing use” of the building and, generally, businesses with legal pre-existing uses cannot expand.

Legal counsel has also previously advised the committee that it cannot give owners of adult businesses an advantage that other business owners don't enjoy.

Dal Ponte and his attorney have previously indicated they may have no choice but to challenge the entire adult business ordinance in court if a compromise cannot be worked out to allow the expansion.

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AUSTRALIA

Adult Shop Owners Back Proposed Laws

WHITSUNDAY, Australia — Owners Of the local Davey Avenue Adult Shop are in favour of proposed new regulations that will stop adult stores from opening within 200 meters of schools and churches.

Store co-owner Roly Jackson said a lot of controversy and lost sleep could have been avoided if the regulations were in place when his store opened in May.

“The more laws that are passed to make it black and white (the better),” he said.

Jackson said despite initial controversy, Whitsunday residents had been very supportive of the business.

“We've had a lot of people come into the shop that wouldn't necessarily have,” he said. “We've had absolutely no trouble.”

Acting Premier Paul Lucas said the new state provisions would be drafted by March. Community members would be able to comment on the draft regulations before they were finalized and councils could modify them.

“This is about giving local communities choice,” Lucas said.

Existing adult stores will not be affected.

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