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Key West to Tighten Rules on Adult Businesses

Key West- The city of Key West is looking to take more control of local development with permanent changes to city ordinances that would limit adult entertainment stores and venues throughout town, and bar franchise development on a third of the island.

Both proposed revisions would tighten current code, and go before the Planning Board in a special meeting tonight. If approved, the changes need final approval by the City Commission before going into effect.

The first, proposed by City Attorney Bob Tischenkel, would limit the number of adult entertainment venues around town and try to limit those types of businesses to Lower Duval Street.

The new regulation would recognize seven existing establishments in that area, Historic Residential Commercial Corridor-1, and cap development at those seven. They include The Red Garter Saloon, Teasers II, Erotic Sensations, Bourbon Street Pub, Fairvilla Mega Store, and Leather Master.

The new code would provide a lottery in the event one of those businesses closes.

“The City Commission is devoted to the historic preservation of Key West and finds that too prominent a use of adult entertainment in the Historic District, with the potential of turning HRCC-1 into a ‘red light district,’ would be incompatible with its historic appearance and character,” Tischenkel wrote in the ordinance to justify the cap to existing businesses.

All other adult entertainment operations in the historic district are non-conforming, but since they’re established businesses, will be allowed to remain open as legally non-conforming entities.

Those businesses — which could not be reopened as adult establishments if they close — are Island Erotica, Truman Book & Video, Teasers, Bare Assets, 801 Bourbon Street, Scrub Club and Leatherotica.

“The City Commission desires to eliminate the permitted adult entertainment use from HRCC-3 because…this area has developed a character of upscale stores, guest houses, are galleries and restaurants, as well as an interwoven residential neighborhood with families,” states the refined ordinance.

Current city land development regulations, adopted in 1998 and amended in 2001, allow adult entertainment as a permitted use in both HRCC-1 and HRCC-3, the Upper Duval area, subject to permit and construction approval on a case-by-case basis. Naming those in HRCC-3 legally non-conforming would over time limit adult entertainment businesses to Lower Duval.

Mayor Jimmy Weekley has also asked the Planning Board to review extending current boundaries to limit formula restaurants and retail establishments in more areas around town.

The board already deemed the prohibition of chain franchises in the Historic Seaport area, HRCC-2, and Upper Duval to be consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Now the mayor wants to add Lower Duval and the White Street commercial corridor to that list.

“Such types of establishments diminish the unique character of the city’s Historic District by offering standardization of architecture, signage, interior decor, employee uniforms and product,” states the new ordinance.

“The limitation of formula restaurants and retail establishments will protect, promote and attract unique economic development to these zoning districts.”

The city defines formula establishments as any restaurant that is one of a chain or group of three or more existing establishments, fast food restaurants, and formula retail operations that offer standardized merchandise as required by contract.

As in the adult entertainment proposal, all existing businesses in these areas would be considered legally non-conforming, but new businesses will be prohibited.

The Planning Board will hold a special meeting tonight at 6 p.m. in Old City Hall on Greene Street to consider both changes to city regulations.



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