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Staunton Planning Commission reviews first draft of adult business ordinance

STAUNTON, Virginia — The Planning Commission reviewed a drafted ordinance that would regulate adult businesses in the city, at a special work session Monday.

The commission asked City Attorney Doug Guynn [pictured] to draft an ordinance similar to one from Henrico County at a Sept. 25 work session.

The draft mentions the harmful secondary effects of adult businesses, and describes the city’s interest in maintaining Staunton as a safe and attractive place.

In the draft, definitions are given for different terms and types of enterprises pertaining to adult businesses, including “adult video store,” “adult motel” and “adult nightclub.”

The draft also describes an application process that would require a permit from the chief of police.

The potential business owner would be required to provide a criminal records check with their application and to authorize the police department to investigate whether the given information is accurate.

The draft lays out conditions for the denial of the application, including if the potential business owner has been convicted of a felony within the previous five years.

The ordinance also would require the business owner to reapply every 12 months, and describes a judicial review process for applications and permits that are denied or revoked.

Under the draft ordinance, existing adult businesses would have to complete the permit application process within 30 days of the enactment of the ordinance.

The businesses would have 90 days to comply with some of the other requirements in the ordinance.

An existing business would have to go through the permit process, but they would be grandfathered in for the final zoning provisions, Guynn said.

At the Sept. 24 work session, commission members discussed the possibility of requiring a greater distance than the Henrico County ordinance, which requires 500 feet.

At the meeting, Building Official John Glover used interactive maps from the city’s geographic information system to show council members how much land would be available to adult businesses under the 500 and 1000 foot restrictions.

Glover showed that significantly less land was available under the 1000 foot restriction.

Commission members decided to go with the 500- foot restriction.

“A thousand feet was unrealistic,” said Chairwoman Lynn Sisson after the meeting.

“We have to be reasonable and allow some areas, and obviously the 1000 feet would not do that.”

The commission also asked Guynn to include regulations that will stipulate that adult businesses only be allowed in areas of the city that are zoned for industrial use.

Changes also will have to made to city zoning code to allow adult businesses in industrial areas.

Sisson said the draft ordinance was exactly what commission members were looking for based on the ordinances from other localities the commission studied.

“Certainly the Henrico ordinance spelled out most of what we wanted,” she said.

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