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The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

Retail News for the Week of Sept. 15-19
The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up
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Sep 19, 2008 5:15 PM PDT    Text size: 
IOWA

City Adopts Adult Business Zoning Ordinances

HAMPTON, Iowa — The Hampton City Council has adopted two ordinances that regulate adult oriented businesses and limits them to the area of town zoned for heavy industrial use.

The council decided to waive the final two readings and adopt Ordinance No. 309, which regulates adult oriented businesses, and also approved and adopted the final reading of Ordinance No. 310, which permits adult oriented businesses in the heavy industrial district.

The vote was five to one, with councilman Pat Palmer against it.

Palmer has been against the ordinances since they were put on the agenda the beginning of July.

“I didn’t come down on the side of the smut. I came down on the side of free enterprise and freedom of speech,” Palmer said.

Palmer also had problems with parts of Ordinance No. 309. For example it says the adult oriented businesses cannot be multi-colored, have flashing lights or show various stages of “undress.”

“That describes our movie theater in town,” he said. “I guess I was reading the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law."

The ordinances regulate, but are not limited to adult bookstores, adult motion picture theaters, adult entertainment and adult novelty shops.

They will go into effect once the ordinances are published.

For more information, click here.

LOUISIANA

City Stymied by New Adult Store

BASTROP, La. — City officials found themselves painted into a legal corner when they tried to prevent an adult novelty store from opening in Bastrop.

The Red Door, which has locations in Monroe and West Monroe, opened its third store, within walking distance of the newest gateway sign welcoming motorists to the city, after obtaining a permit to open a week ago.

The question of the store was not slated for discussion in Thursday’s regular meeting of the Bastrop Board of Aldermen, but was added to the agenda at the request of a group of concerned citizens led by the Rev. Cal Adams of Cherry Ridge Baptist Church.

“When I found out (the shop) was coming, I was hoping we could stop it with some kind of ordinance,” said council member Boo Robinson, who moved to revoke The Red Door’s license at the board meeting. The motion passed.

On the advice of city attorney Doug Lawrence, mayor Clarence Hawkins vetoed the motion, explaining “My reason for the veto was that municipalities don’t have the right, under state law, not to allow a business to exist when it meets the legal criteria. I used my prerogative to veto to keep them from taking an illegal action.”

Hawkins said he was advised The Red Door fits the definition of a Sexually Oriented Business and meets the state criteria to operate as such. Had the city revoked the license, it might have been found in breach of contract.

“Regardless of my personal feelings, we are an organization of laws,” he said. “The oath I took as mayor was to uphold the law. I understand people will disagree, but I would have been in malfeasance if I didn’t veto the motion.

Rather than override the mayor’s veto, alderman Eddie Gorden moved to have Lawrence seek an attorney general’s opinion as to the time frame in which the board might do so in the future.

For more information, click here.

MASSACHUSETTS

Mendon Ready to Fight Over Strip Club Proposal

MENDON, Mass. — This small town is bracing for a fight over a proposed strip club that would replace landscaping business Oak Tree Supply with "Showtime Entertainment," a two-stage strip club.

Deborah Lane, leader of "Speak Out Mendon," says her group has leafleted 3,000 homes. She says at residents fear "secondary effects."

"There'll be prostitution, drug use, increased gambling, maybe even organized crime," predicted Lane.

In May, Mendon restricted adult entertainment to a small zone as did nearby Milford, which rejected a strip club proposal. Even if Showtime gets a license, review by planning and zoning boards would still be required.

Christopher Funari, who along with his father George have applied for the strip club license, had no comment.

For more information, click here.

NEW YORK

City Sets Up Sex Business Zones

HUDSON, N.Y. — The Common Council adopted several new laws this week, including one that creates three adult use business zones throughout the city, but with severe restrictions on their operation.

The adult entertainment law includes three small sections of Hudson. Common Council President Robert Perry says the rules governing these zones are intended to make Hudson an undesirable place for adult businesses to set up shop. The law includes a restriction that adult businesses cannot be within 1,000 feet of a school, childcare center, park, playground, church, private residence or another adult business.

"We're trying to make it so unattractive that a person won't want to set up an adult business in Hudson," says Mr. Perry. "We're trying to protect the community while complying with the Supreme Court ruling that we can't ban adult businesses... If we didn't have this regulation, they could set up shop anywhere."

Alderman Robert Donahue voted against the measure. "I know we're forced to let them here by the freedom of speech," Donahue said, "but if the founding fathers knew they would be letting porn shops in with that, they'd be rolling over in their graves. I voted no because, we don't need that in any ward of our city, to make a statement."

Alderman Abdus Miah also voted against the law.

The impetus for the law stems from an attempt to establish a strip club in 2006, when there was no regulation of adult businesses. The business was shut down after it was discovered that it had not completed the appropriate paperwork required for any new business, leading to a cease and desist order from the city.

For more information, click here.

OHIO

City Wants to Fix Adult Zoning Laws

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, Ohio — The City Council here wants to alter zoning laws to make it illegal to build an adult movie theater next to St. Peter Church. The proposed legislation would require adult bookstores, adult movie theatres and similar occupancies to maintain a minimum of 1,000-foot separation from schools and parishes.

"You can not pass legislation that just bans them," Mayor David Gillock said. "The Supreme Court says you can't just say no.'"

Gillock said that during his five-year tenure as mayor he's received only two inquires to implement sexually oriented businesses in the city, both of which never materialized, but he said that the city does not want to take chances.

"We're trying to be proactive," Gillock said. "We hope that it would discourage such an occupancy in North Ridgeville. We're trying to look out for our residents and keep our kids safe."

For more information, click here.

ENGLAND

Sex Shop Approved

GUYHIRN, England — Controversial plans to open the county's largest sex shop in Guyhirn have been given the go-ahead by Fenland Council's licensing committee.

Dozens of protestors packed Fenland's council chamber for the hearing on Tony Ibrahim's application for a sex establishment license at the former Little Chef restaurant.

Seven opponents spoke on behalf of objectors, claiming the sex shop would lower the tone of the area and give the wrong impression of Fenland to visitors.

Guyhirn villager Marilyn Hyde told the committee she would be unable to sell her home if the sex shop got the go-ahead.

"If the application is agreed my house is worthless. Who will want to buy it?" said Hyde, who claimed her property overlooks the proposed site.

Other concerns included traffic safety, children being enticed into the sex shop, and customers from the shop "wooing"children.

Attorne Steve MacGregor, who represented Ibrahim, said his client had chosen to apply for a license, but could have opened an unlicensed premises and the council would have had no control over the business. He pointed out that even if the application is refused the site would still become a sex shop as a license is only needed for certain videos and DVDs: the remaining 99 per cent of the store's planned stock can be sold without a license.

MacGregor pointed out that without the premises being licensed the local authority would have no control. The council would not have any say in how the premises are painted, what is displayed in the windows and what advertising there is on the site.

But Mr MacGregor said Mr Ibrahim wanted to do things right and he is happy to be under the council's control.

The panel took around an hour to make a decision and agreed to grant the license for 12 months subject to certain conditions, which included having control over the color used to paint out the windows.

Ibrahim said he was pleased with the decision and explained: "I could have opened a shop straight away, but I didn't out of respect to Fenland District Council. I wanted to do it the right way and having a license is the right way. This way it is controlled by the licensing authority and if there is something they don't like, then I will be told to change it.

"Times have changed, and I'm sure that a few weeks down the line, when it has opened, it will just be the shop on the corner."

For more information, click here.

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BUSINESS ANALYSIS

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