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Ordinance limits sites for adult entertainment

Harrison County has adopted an ordinance limiting the areas where adult entertainment businesses may locate, a move intended to stave off the arrival of any sexually-oriented businesses and the legal battles that often accompany them.
The ordinance adopted unanimously by the commissioners on Feb. 23 was hammered out quietly during long work sessions by the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission, said J.R. Eckart. He chairs the three-member board of county commissioners and is a member of the plan commission.
County planner Eric Wise said the ordinance is necessary because otherwise such businesses would only need to locate in a site approved for business to set up shop. The ordinance carefully defines the adult entertainment businesses that are restricted.
For instance, the ordinance amends the existing 1974 zoning ordinance to prohibit the placement of a sexually-oriented business within 1,000 feet of property that is zoned for residential use and places where families are likely to congregate, such as churches, libraries, schools, child-care centers, playgrounds, government offices, public parks, or other similar businesses.
The action was praised by several in the audience that night as a pro-active measure necessary to protect the rural atmosphere in Harrison County. Such businesses frequently set up shop in vacant buildings near interstate interchanges where they are highly visible, Eckart said.
He said such businesses cannot be banned, and, because they are legal, must be provided a place to operate. ‘The ordinance does provide a few places, but they are remote,’ Eckart said.
‘If you allow me, I’ll build a church every place they go,’ said the Rev. Webster Oglesby, pastor of Lincoln Hills Christian Church in Corydon and a member of a group of carpenters from Atlanta that has built churches all over the country.
Commissioner Jim Heitkemper told the plan commission, ‘I’m glad you are pro-active on this. New Albany has a bad situation because they have no ordinance. I think we need to move forward, and I’m glad you all are doing it.’
(Attempts to limit, restrict or prevent such businesses have led to legal disputes elsewhere, most recently in New Albany and Louisville.)
Both Eckart and Commissioner James Goldman said they had noticed the proliferation of billboards advertising adult entertainment during trips to the South and West.
Although as chair, he doesn’t usually make motions, in this case Eckart did. Goldman said, ‘I’ll second that.’
‘I’ll third it,’ said Heitkemper.
Anyone who would like a copy of the ordinance may obtain one at the auditor’s office, but Eckart warned that the contents are very specific.