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|Monroe council takes aim at sexually oriented businesses|
A proposed city ordinance could require two sexually oriented businesses in Monroe to close or relocate within two years.
During Tuesday's regular Monroe City Council meeting, two ordinances were introduced that would provide the city with methods to regulate these types of businesses.
According to the proposed changes to the city's zoning codes, sexually oriented businesses would not be permitted to locate within 1,500 feet of public places such as parks, libraries, museums, churches and synagogues, public and private schools and day cares.
Also, no sexually oriented business would be allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of a residential zoning district.
Currently, city ordinance states that adult businesses can not locate within 500 feet of churches, schools, playgrounds or full-time day-care facilities. That ordinance was approved last year after the city received numerous complaints when X-Mart Adult Superstore opened near Our Lady of Fatima School.
At the time of X-Mart's opening, there was no city ordinance that regulated how far adult stores could locate from churches and schools.
Residents in Monroe's Garden District also were upset earlier this year when Safari Gentlemen's Club opened at 812 N. 3rd St. near Louisville Avenue.
Joanne Poret, Monroe's planning and zoning director, said these two businesses will be grandfathered in for two years. However, their licenses could be revoked after two years since they would not be in compliance with the new ordinance because X-Mart is located near a school, and the gentlemen's club is located near a residential district.
"In two years they would have to close?" Marx said. "My question is can we legally do that? I don't want us to pass an ordinance that will cost us a ton in litigation and then lose."
City attorney Nanci Summersgill said she could not answer the question but said she would look into the matter and report back to the city council. The council is expected to take action on the matter at its next regular meeting, Dec. 23.
"I know that we do have in other parts of the code provisions for certain time limits on nonconforming businesses," Summersgill said. "My thought is that this is legal, but I will just have to research it."
Regarding the X-Mart adult store, Summersgill said it has a license for a retail business. However, if the changes in city code are approved by the city council, it will be classified as a sexually oriented business.
"They have a retail license because at that time we didn't have a definition in our ordinance dealing with sexually oriented businesses," Summersgill said. "So, because they are retail, but now would be defined as a sexually oriented business, they are non-conforming, and they would have two years to operate before they can get another license."
After two years, if X-Mart and the gentlemen's club want to continue operating as sexually oriented businesses, they would have to move to different locations.
"We're just creating an area where if you want to have that kind of business, this is where you need to go," Summersgill said.
The city council also introduced another ordinance Tuesday, which would require all nightclubs within the city limits of Monroe to close at 2 a.m. Currently, there is one "after-hours" nightclub in Monroe, which remains open after 2 a.m. It does not sell alcohol, but patrons pay a cover charge and, they can drink within the facility if they bring their own bottles.