Revisions in the works Warsaw’s ordinance on sexually oriented businesses

The City of Warsaw is considering proposed revisions to the ordinance regarding sexually oriented businesses.

The definition of a sexually oriented business is an adult arcade, adult bookstore, adult novelty store, adult video store, adult cabaret, adult hotel/motel, adult motion picture theater, adult theater, nude/semi-nude model studio or sexual encounter center. But it does not include businesses just because they show, sell, or rent materials rated NC-17 or R by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Currently there are not any sexually oriented businesses in Warsaw, but City Planner Jeremy Skinner says he’s been meaning to revise the ordinance for a couple of years now.

“There have been a number of individuals that have requested that we look at the sexually oriented businesses ordinance, to make sure that it is up to date and still valid and addresses what we need to address to protect the city, not from the businesses themselves but from the potential effects that these businesses could have on adjoining property, making sure that we have an ordinance that puts them in the right places so that it is not detrimental to the city as a whole,” Skinner explained to the board.

The board was told there are not any sexually oriented businesses proposing to come to town at this point, but Skinner says there’s been over a dozen court cases involving them elsewhere.

“We don’t want to get into that situation, so we want to do our due diligence, get an ordinance that has been reviewed and we feel can legally stand up to protect all, not just the surrounding property owners but also those who would look to operate such a business,” he said.

Under the proposal Warsaw would permit sexually oriented businesses in some areas zone for commercial and industrial use. Skinner says the city should consider requiring licensing of future sexually oriented businesses to promote the safety and well-being of employees and patrons.

He outlined the proposed amendments to the ordinance.

“First and foremost, the city should consider documented issues with reference to sexually oriented businesses. Next, the council might consider limiting the hours of operation of sexually oriented businesses in order to keep traffic down late at night, which could potentially disturb residents who live nearby. It should also consider adding zoning restrictions to increase the distance between adult uses and schools, churches and other places of worship, residential areas, etc.”

Skinner says the ordinance should define the maximum amount of income and inventory that can come from sexually oriented material before a business is considered a sexually oriented business. This would provide an exemption for large corporate stores that ma carry some adult materials but shouldn’t be considered a sexually oriented business.

Councilwoman Diane Quance seems to agree the city’s ordinance needs revision. She calls the current ordinance “very vague” and says it would “allow somebody to slip in here without us being able to do anything about it or protect the citizens impacted by it, so we need to be more specific in what we have set out.”

Quance asked if the revised ordinance addresses “things other than acts with human beings”.

She suggests the city may want to put something regarding that in its ordinance as “we’ve had some issues in the county with other things, and that might be something to include.”

The City Council will hear a presentation on the revised ordinance proposal at its meeting July 17. After that, the city will hold public hearings on the proposed changes.

The Times Union contributed to this story.