The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

Tod Hunter

East Hartford Prepares to Fight Adult-Oriented Businesses

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — After Town Attorney Thomas Gerarde advised officials that the planning and zoning commission has a much better chance of fighting adult businesses if it eliminates the need for applicants to get a special permit, the commission eliminated the requirement by unanimous vote, against the wishes of more than 80 residents who gathered at town hall for a public hearing on the issue.

Residents who spoke urged the commission to fight the businesses, but the town has already been sued by two prospective owners. According to Gerarde, there's little hope of winning when the lawsuit goes to the U.S. District Court because the special permit will be determined "to be unconstitutional and stricken."

Although the special permit requirement was removed, adult-oriented businesses are only allowed in the town's I-3 or Industrial III zones. But some residents at the public hearing pointed out that some of these industrial zones are near schools and residential neighborhoods.

The Masters Club LLC filed a lawsuit in October in U.S. District Court in New Haven against the town, Mayor Melody A. Currey and planning officials. The company purchased a closed Elks Club lodge and a neighboring property for more than $1.3 million, planning to open an adult business.

Last month, another company, Pitkin Street Entertainment LLC, filed a lawsuit against the town and Gary Zalucki, town zoning inspector, in U.S. District Court in Hartford.

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City Considers Adult Business Restrictions

CLAY CENTER, Kan. — The city is planning to limit adult business locations.

Currently Clay Center has no adult businesses, and no ordinances that would limit where a sexually-orientated business could go. An ordinance that was proposed Tuesday, to be voted on at the next council meeting, will limit adult business locations.

The ordinance calls for a licensing procedure that includes a 1,000 foot setback from schools, parks, state licensed daycares, churches and residential areas. The 1,000 foot setback was chosen "because that is the distance that is in conjunction with other codes," Mayor Sharon Brown said. "For instance, the legal code for selling of drugs [near a school] or sex offenders is 1,000 feet. So it is a typical distance."

As a licensing procedure, the city has more oversight than had the city restricted such businesses to a certain zone.

Potential businesses must go through an application process, and the city have the property inspected and require background checks.

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County Gives Up in Battle With Adult Store

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — After a decade of legal wrangling, Howard County has admitted defeat in a battle against an adult video store. The county has been ordered to reimburse $180,000 in legal fees to the store.

When the Pack Shack opened in Ellicott City in 1997, there were regular protests. People were saying it could damage families and was too close to homes. The Pack Shack is still around despite passage of two zoning laws and a long legal fight by Howard County.

"As far as the county is concerned, they seem to have met the letter of the ordinance as it's currently crafted," said Margaret Ann Nolan, Howard County solicitor.

Maryland's highest court found the first zoning law violated the Pack Shack's right to free speech. When the current zoning law required the Pack Shack to only sell 20 percent of adult merchandise, it began to stock T-shirts and old paperbacks having nothing to do with sex.

The adult stock is now away from the windows in a back room with peep show booths.

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City Council Adopts Adult Use Ordinance

STACY, Minn. — The Stacy City Council passed an adult use ordinance last week after City Attorney Peter Grundhoefer made some changes following the last council meeting. Grundhoefer said he had consulted with the St. Paul City Attorney’s office regarding background check requirements for employees of an adult establishment and prohibition of alcohol. Modeling it after the city of St. Paul’s, Grundhoefer said he was now satisfied with the draft and the council took up discussion again.

Councilor Mel Aslakson lobbied for limiting the establishment of this type of business to an industrial park, but the consensus was if an adult-oriented business set up shop in the business park, it would not draw the kind of industry the council is seeking to attract: manufacturing and technology.

The ordinance was drafted to allow adult business use away from the general business district, but in an area zoned industrial.

The ordinance passed with Grundhoefer’s changes.

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Adult Business Ordinance Passes First Reading

DELL RAPIDS, S.D. — The City Council approved Monday the first reading of a ordinance to amend the joint zoning ordinance with the county concerning adult-oriented businesses.

The amended ordinance would not allow adult bookstores, video stores, theaters or amusement or entertainment establishments within 1,320 feet of residences, playgrounds, child welfare agencies, places of worship, public recreational facilities or schools.

The businesses also would not be allowed to be open between 2 and 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday or between 2 a.m. and noon on Sunday.

The ordinance would only apply to adult establishments outside city limits.

The amendment was done to bring the ordinance in line with new state laws.

A public hearing on the matter will be held Sept. 9.

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