The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

Tod Hunter

City Passes Adult Business Regulations

FOLEY, Ala. — City council officials unanimously approved an ordinance to regulate adult book or video stores and other sexually oriented businesses, starting with a new application process that includes background checks and a $3,000 fee.

Under the ordinance, the owner and manager of any business that sold adult items as the primary product would undergo city background checks before a business license would be issued. The business would also have to pay a special application fee of $3,000 each year in addition to standard business license fees.

Businesses included in the ordinance would include adult book stores, video stores, escort services, massage parlors and any other establishment "intended to provide sexual stimulation or sexual gratification to the customer, or which places an emphasis on the presentation, display, depiction or description of sexual activities or of nude persons."

Existing businesses that fit the description would be allowed to operate until their current business licenses expired. The owners or managers would then have to pay the $3,000 application fee before getting the license renewed.

City officials said another ordinance is also being prepared to set zoning regulations to determine where such businesses will be allowed in the future.

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Iowa Cities Consider Adult Entertainment Laws

MASON CITY, Iowa — Several North Iowa cities have moved to regulate sexually oriented businesses over the past year — most for no reason other than “to be prepared,” said Alan Kemp, executive director of the Iowa League of Cities.

“Many cities have realized that by the time they have a business that wants to open, it’s almost too late” to place regulatory safeguards, Kemp said.

Kemp said he has not seen any appreciable increase in adult entertainment businesses in the state — from strip clubs to adult bookstores. Cities, he added, are cautious when it comes to such establishments.

“If there is a particular situation in one community, or even the rumor of a business coming, that might trigger a city looking at creating an ordinance,” he said.

Hampton and Garner have moved to adopt ordinances in recent months and Clear Lake adopted its ordinance less than a year ago.

Clear Lake officials have already seen their new law tested. In June, a bar owner opted to have a wet T-shirt contest. City officials said it was in violation of its ordinance and that Alan Slater, owner of The Marina, was operating without a license, required by the ordinance.

On Aug. 28, the city’s complaint against Slater will be heard in Cerro Gordo County District Court.

Most ordinances take the same route to control: They use zoning to establish where such businesses can or cannot operate and distances required between the adult business and churches, schools, day cares and residential areas.

Some ordinances also control signage and whether or not the business is visible from well-traveled roads.

Mason City has long had ordinances regulating adult businesses. Laws established in the 1970s and ’80s came in response to an influx of adult-oriented businesses during the 1970s.

Iowa law allows a city to zone a two-mile strip of land around its perimeter, called a “sphere of influence,” if the area was not zoned by the county. The sphere extends the city’s regulatory power through the two-mile zone.

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New Zoning Ordinance Separates Adult Businesses

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — New subdivision and zoning districts ordinances for Woodbury County were adopted on a 4-0 vote by the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors on July 22.

At least 40 meetings drafting and approving the new ordinances have been held in the form of town hall meetings, planning and zoning commission meetings and then finally four meetings in the last month before the supervisors, who had the final word on adoption.

The ordinances address the topics of adult business placements (they can't be put together in one small area), the presence of junk vehicles (allowable, so long as they can't be seen by drivers), set zoning districts where "hobby farmers" with a few horses could live and gives more oversight of home businesses.

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City May Change Adult Entertainment Bylaw

FRANKLIN, Mass. — Saying they hope to avoid the same problems area towns are contending with over nude dancing, officials are considering changing town bylaws.

"It seems to be a hot topic in surrounding towns," said Councilor Stephen Whalen at a hearing on the matter last night, and asked Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting whether Franklin has received any applications for adult entertainment venues lately.

"No, nor do we ever want to," he responded.

A good bylaw provides an accessible location, but one which would still remain "unattractive" to adult entertainment vendors, Town Attorney Mark G. Cerel said.

Instead of allowing strip clubs to set up shop on a major route, Franklin is aiming to restrict adult entertainment venues to its two industrial parks, he said.

Cerel is recommending the council approve a bylaw that would permit adult entertainment establishments within 200 feet, rather than 1,000 feet (as under the current bylaw), from a residential zoning district, child-care facility, park, playground, school or library, to avoid potential legal claims from such venues, he said.

The Planning Board on July 14 voted unanimously to recommend the council adopt the proposed bylaw amendment.

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Adult Business Drops Lawsuit

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — An adult store owner dropped a lawsuit meant to force Garfield Township to accept a proposed store near a church and residential neighborhood.

Traverse City resident Brad Vannatter, who operates Fantasies Unlimited adult stores, wanted to sell sexually explicit magazines, videos, novelties and other items from the former Celebrations party supply store.

Vannatter never asked the township for a zoning permit but instead went directly to federal court with a suit that alleged the township's 11-year-old adult-oriented business zoning ordinance was unconstitutional.

Township officials quickly realized Vannatter had a case updated the ordinance. The new ordinance changed the approval process, but kept several restrictions, including a 750-foot setback from churches, schools and residential neighborhoods. Township officials also added new requirements, such as background investigations on all employees and owners.

In an email to board members, township attorney Kent Gerberding said Vannatter has the right to file a new lawsuit but added, "We don't think we will hear from them again."

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