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Fantasies Unlimited Drops Its Lawsuit

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — A porn purveyor dropped a lawsuit meant to force Garfield Township to accept his adult sexually-oriented business near a church and residential neighborhood.

“It’s a great day for the citizens of Garfield Township,” said township Supervisor Lee Wilson.

Traverse City resident Brad Vannatter, who operates Fantasies Unlimited adult stores, wanted to peddle a variety of sexually explicit magazines, videos, novelties and other items from the former Celebrations party supply store along Cass Road just north of South Airport Road.

Vannatter never asked the township for a zoning permit but instead went directly to federal court with a suit that alleged the township’s 11-year-old adult-oriented business zoning ordinance was unconstitutional.

Township officials quickly realized Vannatter had a case and before the end of May updated the ordinance. The new ordinance changed the approval process, but kept several restrictions, including a 750-foot setback from churches, schools and residential neighborhoods.

A church and residential property are located within 750 feet of Vannatter’s proposed location.

The township shifted some other restrictions from its zoning department to a new adult-business licensing ordinance that falls under the township’s police powers, Wilson said.

Township officials also added new requirements, such as background investigations on all employees and owners.

Wilson said the “cutting edge” ordinances forced Vannatter to drop his lawsuit.

“While the U.S. Constitution prohibits the township from banning sexually orientated businesses outright, it does allow carefully drafted regulations which are designed to protect the township’s residential neighborhoods, schools and churches,” Wilson said.

Vannatter’s attorney could not be reached Thursday afternoon.

In an e-mail to board members, township attorney Kent Gerberding said Vannatter has the right to file a new lawsuit but added:

“We don’t think we will hear from them again.”

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