Commissioners move forward with new zoning regulations
by Dennis Sharkey
Commissioners approved new county zoning and code regulations that pertain to adult entertainment businesses.
The Planning Commission met earlier this month and voted to recommend the changes.
Commissioners also approved some language changes to the sexually oriented business license guidelines that were approved recently. The new guidelines stipulate that the applicant’s business meet distance requirements that are in the codes.
Much of the evidence the county’s attorney Scott Bergthold has relied upon deals with negative secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses (SOBs). Bergthold, who attended the meeting via conference call, made clear the point that the county does not need to create, produce studies or local anecdotal evidence to make a relevant case.
Proposed Club owner Zach Snyder has contended that none of the studies produced is relevant. Snyder has said that none of the studies used were produced in Kansas or anywhere near Jefferson County. Snyder operates a club similar to the one proposed in Douglas county.
On Monday, Club Manager Oather Rutledge got a chance to question commissioners and Bergthold about the zoning regulations and the permit process.
Rutledge said the 1,000 feet distance rule the county is enforcing is much more robust than what was proposed by state legislators this year. Rutledge questioned whether any land in the county would be available.
“The one you have before us today covers everything,” Rutledge said. “You couldn’t put that anywhere. Is there anywhere in the county according to that, that one would still be able to have one?”
“I have no idea about that,” Chairman Richard Malm said in response to whether or not land was for sale. “But there are locations available.”
Rutledge questioned the six-foot rule that patrons and employees who are entertainers must maintain from each other. He believes the rule is not narrowly tailored.
Bergthold responded by saying that six feet has been upheld by at least 10 courts and a 10 feet regulation has also been upheld multiple times. He also said six feet is a good distance for law enforcement to be able to enforce.
Rutledge also asked why commissioners rescinded a resolution passed last month and no longer require a conditional use permit. Rutledge said he was not arguing the issue but wanted clarification.
Bergthold said the new process essentially protects the county and at the same time eliminates the lengthy hearing process. Some definitions were also added.
“It was more of a housekeeping matter,” Bergthold said.
Rutledge questioned commissioners about their awareness of the resolutions they approved and their contents.
“We’ve been working with staff for quite some time and I believe the individuals involved are very aware of the changes,” Bergthold said. “I don’t know if it would be accurate to say they were not aware.”
Rutledge asked commissioners why they couldn’t answer for themselves.
Malm said there were minor housekeeping changes and that’s why he deferred to Bergthold. First District Commissioner Lynn Luck said she leans on the experts.
“If an attorney suggests to me that things need to be cleaned up a little bit then I’m going to rely on him to give me the right advice,” she said.
“That’s mine too,” Second District Commissioner Roy Dunnaway said.
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