By Jeff Gallatin
City officials are in the process of cleaning up a nearly 20-year-old adult entertainment business licensing law in an effort to head off any potential problems.
City Council’s safety committee took the matter up after administration officials noted that some city workers and officials have heard from concerned citizens about a potential adult-entertainment type business locating in a vacant business in the city.
“At this point, we have had no formal applications, phone calls or other type of contact about that type of business wanting to locate in the city,” Mayor Kevin Kennedy said. “I’ve had no one contact me directly asking questions about wanting to locate that type of business in the city.”
Paul Barker, the senior member of council, said there have been questions from residents to council members, but no inquiries from businesses.
“I talked to (Law Director) Michael Gareau Saturday and there hasn’t been anything filed or any contacts,” Barker said.
During council’s caucus prior to the regular Nov. 21 council meeting, Gareau advocated updating the ordinance, which was originally established in the mid-1990s.
“What was good then might not be good now,” he said.
Gareau said the ordinance should be reviewed for updating and revising the review process for the revocation and denial of a license application for that type of business. He specifically cited the need to establish a more definitive means of appeal to a higher court, for someone trying to seek licensing for an adult-type entertainment business. He said a hearing on a license could go before Council, but said there still should be an avenue for an appeal to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
“Because there are First Amendment and free speech issues, we need to make sure we meet some pretty specific parameters,” he said.
Gareau urged the council to move quickly, saying that by taking action now it would have guidelines in place that would allow the city to properly regulate any adult-type business if an attempt is made soon to place one in the city.
Capt. Mike Kilbane said the police department is aware of the talks, but also has had no direct contact.
“We’ve heard the rumors, too, about one wanting to locate in the city,” he said. “But no one’s contacted us directly.”
Because of the lack of any formal applications or contact, the officials declined to cite any specific location where such a business might locate at this point.