City efforts to make more land available to adult businesses are less of a welcome mat and more of a shield against litigation.
Only 0.045 percent — or about 8 acres of Bloomington’s total land— is currently available to adult bookstores, movie theaters, novelty stores and similar businesses. The city wants to bring that total up to nearly 4 percent, more in line with previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the matter.
Changes to the city’s ordinance defining where a sexually oriented business might locate were approved last week by the Bloomington Plan Commission and now await city council review.
“The big bottom line here is, this is literally something the city has to do,” said Joe Hoffmann, president of the Bloomington Plan Commission. “If we don’t do it, the courts will make us do it, so it’s better to get out in front of it.”
In 1986, Playtime Theaters Inc. sued the city of Renton, Washington, for creating an ordinance regulating where a sexually oriented business may locate. Playtime Theaters lost the case and did not succeed in overturning the city code. The Supreme Court found there are serious, secondary effects of such businesses and therefore allowed a certain amount of government regulation to combat problems, which Hoffmann listed as increased litter and crime in areas where sexually oriented businesses are located.