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Published: Wednesday, 11/20/2002

City panel OKs adult shops in industrial zones

Facing a potential court ruling striking down all zoning restrictions on sex businesses in Toledo, a City Council committee yesterday agreed to restore industrial zones as areas where X-rated businesses can locate.

That would multiply the available area from about 1 percent of land in the city to between 10 and 12 percent, according to council President Pro Tem Louis Escobar.

The revised zoning law - the first major change since 1979 -would expand the areas where adult businesses may locate from C-3 and C-5 commercial zones into M-1 and M-2 industrial zones.

The committee's unanimous 8-0 vote reversed a recommendation from the Toledo Plan Commission last month. The plan commission recommended defeat of industrial zoning for sex businesses.

A lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court claims Toledo's adult business zoning is so restrictive, it violates free-speech rights.

John Madigan, the city's general counsel, said that Toledo is legally vulnerable on the issue. “If we lose our ordinance, that could mean the potential for places opening up right next door to churches and schools and residences,” Mr. Madigan said.

Councilman Wade Kapszukiewicz said that expanding the zoning seems “counterintuitive” to citizens. “If we need to expand, I would rather that expansion take place in industrial than in the residential areas,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said in supporting the change.

As in the current law, the proposed ordinance forbids sex businesses within 500 feet of a religious institution, school, playground, or residential district, or within 1,000 feet of another sex business.

However, an attorney representing one of the adult bookstores charged that banning several adult businesses side-by-side, such as a video store, a lingerie store, and a nude dance club, is a new restriction.

Also pending before council is a companion ordinance that would license sex businesses, outlaw massage parlors, and establish a mandatory six-foot distance between dancers and patrons in “gentlemen's cabarets.” Both ordinances are to come up for a vote Dec. 3.

Stephen Herwat, the executive director of the plan commission, said he has been assured the mayor supports the zoning ordinance, after having initially opposed it. But Councilmen Gene Zmuda and Rob Ludeman said they wanted to hear directly from Mr. Ford.

Also last night, council met and:

  • Referred a proposed domestic partners ordinance to a hearing of a committee of the whole 10 a.m. Dec. 5 in council chambers. The ordinance would extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees.

  • Approved the purchase of 2.3 acres on Kinder Road off Airport Highway west of Reynolds Road for a park for $41,400.

  • Approved the site plan for a proposed Bob Evans restaurant at Toledo Commons, 3025 Glendale Ave.

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