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Shipshewana starts process to restrict adult businesses


There are no adult oriented businesses looking to move into Shipshewana, but the Shipshewana Town Council wants to make sure that they are ready, should one ever want to.

Looking at the legal trouble that Angola is having with an adult club moving into town, Shipshewana Town Manager Mike Sutter asked that the council begin looking at ways that the town can be prepared.

Town attorney Kurt Bachman told the council Thursday evening that adult oriented businesses cannot be prohibited because of First Amendment protection. “We can adopt time, place and manner restrictions,” Bachman said. “The town can consider licensing requirements for adult oriented businesses.”

Currently, the only restrictions in place are those that the county has in place, regulating adult oriented businesses to I-2 zoned areas only.

Bachman told the council that the town can regulate the businesses based on “secondary effects.” “The concerns about sexually oriented businesses are the adverse secondary effects that they have on properties around them,” Bachman said. Among the adverse affects are:

·        Reduction in property value;

·        Difficulty in selling or leasing property;

·        Perceived negative impact that the area is unsafe;

·        Increased vice-related activities;

·        Noise, lighting and traffic increase;

·        Risk to minors from exposure or contact with the business;

·        Overall community blight;

Bachman also noted that studies have shown that such adverse effects are not limited to urban communities alone, and have shown significant rises in crime rates in the area around sexually oriented businesses.

Looking to give the town more authority over a sexually oriented business moving into the area, Bachman recommended that the town look at an ordinance that would regulate those businesses, “minimizing the adverse secondary effects.” Bachman pointed out that the town cannot use the county’s zoning laws to prohibit those businesses, but can require them to be licensed.

According to Bachman, the town’s licensing ordinance would prohibit:

·        Minors from entering or remaining on the premises;

·        Prevent minors from being employed by the business;

·        Prevent loitering around the business;

·        Prevent sexual activities from taking place at the business;

·        Prevent walls, fences or other barriers from being built that prevent the parking lot from being visible from the public right-of-way, which could create a place where crime can more easily occur;

·        Prevent sexual offenders or those convicted of certain criminal activities from being an owner or employee of the business;

Bachman added that there would be an application process for the licenses, as well as licensing fees. The town would be able to inspect the business prior to opening and during operation. The ordinance would also provide for suspension of the license and having the license revoked if needed.