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Published: Wednesday, 12/18/2002

Perrysburg toughens law for sex-business licenses

Perrysburg City Council last night strengthened its ordinance on sexually oriented businesses by making licensing procedures more restrictive and barring operators with certain criminal convictions.

In a 7-0 vote, council adopted provisions that will require business applicants to disclose names and other information about corporations and partnerships with ownership interests.

A few residents said the changes have not gone far enough and wanted city regulation of adult-oriented stores to include outlets whose sales of adult merchandise are less than 50 percent of revenues.

Jean Modene, a Perrysburg resident, urged that licensing requirements be applied to a wider array of stores, arguing there is no case law that would make that unlawful.

Peter Gwyn, the city's law director, said he believes lower percentages would put the city's ordinance in legal peril if challenged in court. “I have tried to get this as [legally] defensible as possible,” he said. “It is my opinion when you get into a lower percentage it is not defensible.”

Other revisions will allow denial of a license to anyone to run adult cabarets, stores, or nude modeling studios who have convictions for rape, sexual battery, corruption of a minor, promoting prostitution, or similar offenses.

Adult motels that advertise sexually oriented materials must be licensed and inspected by the city under the changes that were adopted.

Earlier this year, residents demanded a tougher law after a massage parlor opened for a short time on West South Boundary Street, even though the city already had passed a law in January to limit the location of such businesses.

Until then, the city had no such businesses operating openly. The massage parlor closed in April after its landlord instituted eviction action.

The overall aim of the ordinance is to make use of zoning laws to limit the location of sexually oriented businesses on the basis that they generate higher crime rates and drive down the valuation of nearby homes and businesses.

Councilman Tim McCarthy said after the meeting the ordinance still restricts where such businesses can locate. “I think about 5 to 7 per cent of the city is zoned for uses like this, which is the constitutional range you need to be in,” he said.

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