Adultmart: Mansfield, Ohio May Boost Regs for Adult Businesses

MANSFIELD, Ohio — from – Fifth Ward Councilwoman Pat Hightower believes City Council will act unanimously this week to make it harder for businesses like Adultmart to open in areas that could harm surrounding property owners.

Adultmart, which sells lingerie, adult DVDs and sex toys, recently opened for business on Mansfield’s far south side, near the Ohio 13 and U.S. 71 interchange.

Hightower said she has been concerned the shop could discourage customers from frequenting nearby businesses such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell or the Super 8 Motel.

“It could cost them their business,” she said.

“Did it slip by us? Absolutely. But we are going to try to rectify it, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The zoning committee, which Hightower chairs, will meet at 6:30 tonight on the third floor of the municipal building to discuss legislation to do just that. Law Director Dave Remy proposed strengthening ordinances that regulate where sexually oriented businesses may operate.

The new language could be voted on during Tuesday’s 7:30 p.m. council meeting.

“I called Mr. Remy, along with a few other people, regarding legislation, for what could we do to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Hightower said Saturday.

“Do we want businesses in Mansfield? Yes. But of that kind that’s demeaning?”

Hightower said she is concerned that many people unfamiliar with Mansfield know it only for its prisons and a sex offender program — and now an “Adult” highway sign at the southern entrance to the city.

The revised ordinance, a little over five pages long, would:

# Prohibit sexually oriented businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of another such business (the current minimum distance is 500 feet).

# Prohibit sexually oriented businesses from operating within 750 feet of religious institutions, schools, residential or historic districts, parks or public buildings. That’s more than double the current minimum of 300 feet.

Language in that section of the ordinance also would broaden the types of affected locations: religious institutions in general (not just churches), all kinds of public or private schools including day care facilities and preschools (not just elementary or secondary schools), and parks and recreation areas (rather than just parks). Public buildings also have been added to the list.

# Change the penalty for violating the ordinance from up to a $1,000 fine to a first degree misdemeanor.

Mansfield/Richland Convention and Visitors Bureau President Lee Tasseff weighed in with a press release asking that council move swiftly on new zoning requirements.

Ohio 13 at I-71 is the “signature entry road” into Mansfield, he said.

“The bureau has invested a great deal of time and money over the better part of the past three decades creating a positive and inviting image of our area on a state and national level. Its attractions will draw in families to visit, stay overnight and spend money” he said. “The addition of a towering sign reading “Adult” isn’t going to help.

“While it will not deter all travelers from stopping and staying, it would be naive to assume it will not have a negative effect,” Tasseff said.

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