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Thread: Adult use: appropriate zoning district

  1. #1

    Adult use: appropriate zoning district

    Our current zoning ordinance allows sexually oriented businesses as a special use in one of our commercial zoning districts. This particular district basically surrounds the intersection of two state highways. A member of City Council wants the Planning Commission to explore changing our ordinance to allow them as special uses in the Industrial districts, which happens to be located in the corner of the city. I think it is the 'out of sight/out of mind' idea.

    I am looking for some thoughts into this. What IS the ideal zoning district? Is it better to have them virtually hidden from view? Curious to hear comments - thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Feb 2003
    There really is no ideal zoning district! Some citys feel it is best to have them all concentrated in one area (easier to patrol), other citys require a separation distance of two to three miles (an isolated business is easier to protest/ more unstable than clusters).

    My opinion is, the 'out of sight/out of mind' approach is the same as 'ignore it and it will go away'...it doesn't work. If it is hidden away on some dark side street, the loudest protesters are the most regular customers! I say place these businesses at the highest traffic area of town and have bright lighting all the way around the building!

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    We took the industrial district route, but then added restrictions prohibiting them within 1000 feet of a residence, church, or school. When we mapped out the permitted areas it's amazing how well the regs work - they are not out of sight / out of mind (in fact, must be within 1000 feet of the police dept). We haven't had any 'takers' yet.

  4. #4
    See pages 134-6 of Kelly and Cooper PAS Report 495/496, "Everything you always wanted to know about regulating sex businesses . . ." for a good discussion about your question . . .

    How does your community define special use -- more importantly, what type of process is involved? To withstand judicial scrutiny, adult uses must be a permitted use somewhere and may include performance-type standards (i.e. distancing requirements) explicitly designed to ameliorate negative secondary impacts from the adult use . . . some communities call these conditional uses to distinguish them from special uses which follow a discretionary approval process.

    Good luck!

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