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‘Adult’ limits closer

March 21, 2012

City Attorney Tim Baker

    The City of Decatur is moving ever closer to regulating any "sexually-oriented" or "adult" business which may wish to set up shop here.
    At Tuesday night's city council meeting, an ordinance 25 pages in length was presented for the first time and, no surprise, drew unanimous support from council. It will be a couple more weeks, however, before the ordinance which amends current city law will be in effect.
    Council approved the ordinance on two readings, then tabled it until the next meeting, on April 3. It will be sent back to the plan commission for a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. that day. The plan commission is expected to recommend adoption — as it did after an earlier public hearing — then the matter will come back to council for final approval that night.
    Due to past court decisions, "You can't just ban something because you don't like it," City Attorney Tim Baker said at the meeting. Studies have shown that such businesses can generate what are called "secondary problems," however, so businesses of this nature can be regulated.
    Under the ordinance a so-called "sexually-oriented" businesses can only set up shop in certain areas: those zoned for industrial use. The ordinance also has "setback requirements," establishing that these businesses must be at least 1,000 feet from homes, schools, churches, parks, libraries, day-care facilities, etc.
    It also requires licensing of the business and its employees and spells out penalties for violations. 
    Signs at adult businesses would be limited, with the ordinance banning rooftop advertising and flashing lights, and limiting advertising signs to 32 square feet.
    Baker noted that considerable time has been invested in looking over similar ordinances adopted by other communities, along with legal precedents.
    He said, too, that "inquiries were made" about locating sexually-oriented businesses in Decatur and other area communities. There has been nothing definitive, however.

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