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|West Monroe amends city sex ordinances|
The city of West Monroe amended its ordinances last week governing sexually oriented businesses.
Aldermen acted on the matter at their regular meeting. The amended ordinances would restrict operations of sexually oriented business, though one has not opened in West Monroe.
West Monroe's amended ordinances mirror the ones the Monroe City Council approved last year. In West Monroe, the ordinances deal with zoning, licensing and regulation of sexually oriented businesses.
West Monroe city attorney Doug Caldwell said Monroe city attorney Nancy Summersgill provided West Monroe officials with a copy of Monroe's ordinances on sexually explicit businesses.
"Monroe was very helpful with this, and we really adopted ours based on their ordinance," Caldwell said. "We just changed a couple of little things."
"We don't have anybody trying to open one of these businesses right now, but we felt like this was something we needed to do," Caldwell explained. "This has been done in other cities across the state, in Monroe, Ruston, Shreveport, and we just followed their lead."
West Monroe's amended ordinances do not alter current obscenity laws, Caldwell said, adding it would remain illegal to posses and sell items the city deemed obscene.
According to one of the amended ordinances, the provisions "have neither the purpose nor effect of imposing a limitation or restriction on the content or reasonable access to any communicative materials, including sexually oriented materials."
The amended ordinance also states "it is neither the intent nor effect to restrict or deny access by adults to sexually oriented materials protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution or the corresponding provisions by the Louisiana Constitution, or to deny access by the distributors and exhibitors of sexually oriented entertainment to their intended market."
Sexually oriented businesses that want to open an establishment within West Monroe's corporate limits would be required to locate in appropriate areas and possess appropriate licensing.
"We are not interested in any type of adult business in West Monroe, but if they wanted to try and come in, they would first have to pass statewide and local obscenity laws," Caldwell said. "If they do pass those laws, they would only be allowed in certain zones far away from churches and residential areas."
We're really trying to be proactive here," Caldwell continued. "We feel like if this is what Monroe is doing, then it is appropriate for us."
The city of Monroe recently amended one of its ordinances to better regulate sexually oriented businesses after a strip club opened in Monroe's Garden District off Louisville Avenue.
The city of Monroe changed one of its ordinances in December to ensure that no sexually oriented business could operate within 1,000 feet of a residential zoning district.
Monroe officials encountered a backlash from residents last year when X-Mart Superstore opened near Our Lady of Fatima School. X-Mart Superstore sells sexually explicit goods.
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.
The city of Monroe altered its zoning laws to ensure sexually oriented businesses could not locate within 1,500 feet of public places such as parks, libraries, museums, churches and synagogues, as well as public and private schools and day cares.
Anyone interested in reading West Monroe's amended ordinances concerning sexually oriented business turn to page 4B of this week's print edition of The Ouachita Citizen.