Council to consider new zoning rules for X-rated businesses

Where, oh where shall the strip clubs go? A report going before a city council committee meeting on Monday afternoon will examine exactly that.

City planners are suggesting a number of different options to councillors on implementing zoning rules for adult entertainment businesses in Fort St. John, from banning new establishments altogether, to defining adult entertainment and limiting it to specific industrial or commercial areas of the city.

“As the zoning bylaw is currently silent on ‘adult entertainment’ uses, enforcement is an issue,” planner Jennifer Decker writes in the report.

“By adding the definition and specifying where the use is and is not permitted, the city will be able to control the location and number of these establishments.”

The report notes current booze-serving businesses can apply to the provincial Liquor Control Board to add adult entertainment to their offerings. However, current city zoning laws can’t control where a potential new business would start up, which planners note could lead to squabbles with nearby homes and institutions if not managed properly.

“There are perceived concerns the community may have including public drunkenness, perceived decreased safety for women, and noise complaints,” the report states.

Decker’s report proposes three options, the first of which would outlaw new X-rated businesses in all current city zoning uses. Anyone looking to start up a new business would have to apply for a zoning amendment that would require council review and approval.

Existing adult businesses would be allowed to continue to operate unless the business shuts down for more than six consecutive months or is destroyed.

A second option suggests defining what would constitutes  adult entertainment in the city — such as exotic dancers, and adult-oriented performers and activities — and permitting the use in industrial lands south of the Alaska Highway.

“This option would permit the use in an area that is not highly visibly to the motoring public,” Decker writes, “… and is not in close proximity to any institutional or residential zoned lands in the city.”

However, those industrial lands are intermingled with residential lots in the regional district, the report notes.

A third option would permit adult entertainment businesses in select commercial zones, and allow for the city to limited the number of adult businesses for those zones. Liquor businesses are currently allowed in most commercial zoning, including downtown. However, the report notes commercial areas are often located near schools and homes.

Council will debate the issue at its committee of the whole meeting July 13, which begins at 1:30 p.m.

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