HUNTERTOWN — Town Council voted 3-2 Aug. 19 in favor of placing a one-year moratorium on sexually oriented business attempting to set up shop in town. The decision is in tow with several efforts by the Allen County Plan Commission and Fort Wayne City Council to place new regulations on businesses like strip clubs and adult bookstores.
Huntertown Town Council President Brandon Seifert has been a long-time proponent of barring sexually oriented businesses from locating to Huntertown. In July, he told the Northwest News he intended to introduce a measure to do just that during last week’s meeting. The moratorium will prevent adult bookstores, cabernet establishments, movie theaters, nightclubs, novelty stores and video stores, as well as nude or semi-nude modeling studios and “sexual-encounter” establishments from filing within the town’s corporate limits or current annexation areas for 12 months.
Though they said they aren’t in favor of such businesses locating to Huntertown, council members Pat Freck and Mike Stamets saw the moratorium as unnecessary. Both feel the town has sufficient protection under its current zoning ordinance, which restricts sexually oriented businesses to C4 (intensive commercial) districts. Currently, the town’s highest density commercial districts are C3, which means council would have to approve a rezoning in order for a strip club or similar business to locate to Huntertown.
“I don’t condone (sexually oriented businesses) at all, but on the flip side of that, we’ve got the C4 regulation so we have the final say so,” Stamets said.
Freck made similar comments before casting her vote against the measure. She also said she felt uncomfortable about enforcing a moratorium before it was vetted through the town’s attorney for legality.
“I, as a council (member), don’t feel comfortable just saying we’re going to issue a moratorium — no matter what it’s on — without talking to a legal counsel,” Freck said.
On Thursday, the Allen County Plan Commission approved a change to its zoning ordinance that would allow sexually oriented businesses in general industrial districts, of which there are currently four in Huntertown’s Lima-Plank Industrial Park. Fort Wayne City Council has also proposed banning sexually oriented businesses within 500 feet of an agricultural or residential district, within 300 feet of another sexually oriented business, and within 750 feet of a school or religious institution.
While Huntertown has its own zoning ordinance, Seifert hopes to safeguard the town from any effects the county’s ordinance change could have on Huntertown if, for example, council decides to adopt the county’s ordinance in the future.
“That makes it — not a dire situation — but a real concern for the town,” he said.
Council member Mike Aker, who voted in approval of the moratorium alongside Seifert and council member Gary Grant, said he hopes the yearlong freeze will give Huntertown enough time to consider bolstering its zoning code as it relates to sexually oriented businesses.
“I would like to take it a step further than what the county has offered,” Aker said. “Therefore, I feel like we can do that over the course of the next 12 months.”
Seifert said he hopes to one day see the town place so many restrictions on sexually oriented businesses that it will be virtually impossible for them to locate to Huntertown.
“What I am proposing is making it so hard that they have to jump through so many hoops —which legally we can do — that they don’t even want to think about it,” Seifert said.