Niles passes new rules for sexually oriented businesses

NILES — After more than a decade of temporary moratoriums, City Council has passed legislation specifying where sexually oriented businesses are allowed to operate in Niles.

The ordinance approved Oct. 4 as an emergency measure establishes parameters as to where adult bookstores, novelty stores, theaters and cabarets are allowed to operate within city limits. Sexually oriented businesses cannot operate outside of business, commercial or industrial zones, or within 1,000 feet of schools, places of religious worship, parks or other sexually oriented businesses. Sexually oriented businesses also cannot open within 350 feet of the boundary of a residential district or property line.

The ordinance also requires sexually oriented businesses to obtain and renew annual sexually oriented business licenses and sexually oriented employee licenses, which can be revoked if misleading information was given during the application process or if alcohol, drugs, prostitution or any kind of sexual contact were recklessly allowed on the premises. Denial, suspension or revocation of licenses can be appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals or through courts, the ordinance states.

City Councilman Frank Pezzano, D-1st Ward, said for about 15 years, City Council placed moratoriums on the opening of any new sexually oriented businesses and he thanked Law Director Terry Swauger for drafting legislation.

“You can’t stop them, but with this language it’s going to make it very tough for them to come in,” Pezzano said.

There are two adult stores in Niles next to one another, Room 801, 5972 Youngstown Warren Road, and Niles Books & News, 5970 Youngstown Warren Road, which existed before the city’s moratoriums and passage of the ordinance.

According to the language of the ordinance, if two or more sexually oriented businesses are within 1,000 feet of one another and in a permissible location, the sexually oriented business that was first established and continually operating at a particular location is the first permitted usage.

Swauger said sexually oriented businesses are legal and cannot be banned under Ohio law, but they can be regulated. However, Swauger said the existing businesses won’t be affected by the new regulations.

“They’ve been in business forever,” he said. “We can’t suddenly make them comply with new regulations.”