INDIANAPOLIS — Hustler Hollywood has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Indianapolis over a zoning denial that the company said is infringing on its constitutional right to operate one of its stores.
The retail store, already renovated and stocked with merchandise, is ready to open. But city leaders have put the brakes on any store opening.
Hustler Hollywood counsel, in a suit filed Thursday at U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, said that the city is incorrectly classifying the store as an adult-oriented business and has denied it the permits that it needs for it to open.
Hustler Hollywood said that the city’s actions are depriving it of both its First Amendment right to free expression and its 14th Amendment right to equal protection of law.
Hustler Hollywood, which operates about 20 stores in the U.S., this past summer signed a 10-year lease for the property, which is located in the Castleton area.
But last week, Hustler Hollywood filed suit against the consolidated City of Indianapolis/Marion County, as well as the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals and the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.
The suit claimed Hustler Hollywood execs talked with city officials so it could understand what it needed to do to avoid being classified as an adult business under local zoning laws.
In Indianapolis, businesses are considered an adult store if 25 percent or more of its retail floor space, stock or weekly sales are from sexually oriented media, devices and other items.
Hustler Hollywood said it “analyzed its projected inventory, floor space and revenue, determining that it would easily operate below the threshold for triggering a designation of an adult entertainment business.”
After signing the 10-year lease, Hustler Hollywood it filed applications to remodel the store's interior and hang exterior signs at the location.
But the sign permit application was tossed on the grounds that it would require a variance, and the permit to remodel was axed because the city “needed confirmation of an approved use of the premises before granting such a permit,” the suit said.
Hustler Hollywood submitted and later re-submitted information about its projected inventory, floor space and revenue.
But the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals eventually denied an appeal by a 5-0 vote at its Dec. 6 meeting, setting up grounds for a lawsuit.
Hustler Hollywood’s suit asks the court to declare the city’s zoning regulations, and its application in this case, to be in violation of the First and 14th amendments.
The suit also asks that the defendants be prohibited from enforcing the “adult” provisions of the zoning regulations against the store.
Hustler Hollywood is asking unspecified damages for lost profits, loss of goodwill, remodeling and maintenance costs and “deprivation of constitutional rights.”