Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

August 5, 2008

Montrose approves adult biz ordinance

MONTROSE — Immediately before the Montrose Village Board passed an ordinance Monday that all but prohibits sexually oriented businesses in town, the village’s attorney told trustees she believes the ordinance will hold up in court.

“I don’t want to buy you guys into a lawsuit,” said Village Attorney Tracy Berberich. “But we believe this ordinance would be upheld in a constitutional challenge. We believe you would be in a good position.”

The 23-page ordinance culminates a fight that began when the Lions Den adult store chain opened a facility on the Interstate 70 frontage road in early 2003. The store closed in the summer of 2005, soon after Judge James Eder ruled its location violated state law by being too close to the village’s park. An appeal was denied, and the store remains closed.

The ordinance’s preamble outlines several reasons why sexually oriented businesses could be harmful in a community, including serving as a venue for prostitution and casual sex and association with increased crime and decreased property values.

The ordinance also specifies businesses deriving at least 35 percent of their income from sexually oriented items qualify as sexually oriented businesses. Berberich admitted there was little the board could do if a convenience store decided to sell pornographic magazines, or even have a back room with adult videos, as long as it didn’t comprise 35 percent of the store’s business.

To some board members, 35 percent was too much.

“So they can have the 35 percent whether we like it or not?” asked trustee Sally Hilton. “So we fought the book store (Lions Den) for nothing?”

Trustee Carolyn Jansen said a business under the 35 percent standard would not likely be advertising the sexually oriented part of the business.

“They would probably keep it more on the hush-hush,” Jansen said.

Hilton and trustee Bill Kingery abstained from voting on the ordinance, but Jansen and fellow trustees Danny Tague, Eric Esker and Marjorie Bushue voted to pass the village regulations.

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