ADULT BUSINESSES Change in ordinance would allow clubs closer to homes

The proposal is aimed at making an adult-oriented business legal.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A move to make a current adult entertainment spot legal also could bring such businesses closer to homes.
An ordinance goes before city council Wednesday that would shrink the required distance between adult-oriented businesses and places such as churches, schools, parks and homes. The new law would cut the distance to 300 feet from 500 feet.
The change is intended to make legal the activity at the New Affair Lounge on Midlothian Boulevard, which features bikini-clad dancers.
Permit for nightclub
The city gave the business a permit in 1997 to operate as a nightclub, said Bill D'Avignon, city deputy director of planning. The city recently became aware, however, that the lounge now fits the definition of an adult-oriented business, he said.
Despite the intent, D'Avignon acknowledged that the ordinance could let someone open an adult-oriented business closer to homes.
He doesn't expect trimming the space between such business and homes to 300 feet will become a nuisance, however.
"It's still a good, fair distance," D'Avignon said.
The city's three other adult-oriented businesses -- two bookstores and a theater -- are within 300 feet of homes and don't cause many problems, he said. One is even next to a church. All three spots were established before the city made the 500-foot spacing law.
Neighbor's complaint
A neighboring commercial property owner, James Ludt, started complaining early this year about the New Affair's presence, D'Avignon said. Ludt has put lighted signs on his property saying city officials were overlooking an illegality and urged people to complain. The city received no complaints, however, D'Avignon said.
The city hasn't had complaints from any residents or police about the lounge since it opened, he said.
"Until it was brought to our attention there was never any problem there," D'Avignon said.
So, to fix the legal problem, he is suggesting the change in distance rather than seeking to put the lounge out of business. The lounge is more than 300 feet from residences.
There is no waiver available to let the lounge operate as it does in that spot, he said.
The only other option is to have the police or law departments decide that dancers in bikinis don't meet the city's definition of an adult business, D'Avignon said. Such a move is unlikely, however. "That's stretching it," he said.

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