RICHMOND — The City Council passed the city’s first-ever ordinance regulating the licensing of sexually oriented businesses and employees at its meeting Tuesday.
While no sexually oriented businesses have applied for licenses in Richmond, Mayor Mike Hall said such businesses will eventually come to the rural community but he doubts it will be while the current council is in office.
“We need to get ahead of the curve on this one,” said Councilman Paul Erickson.
Hall said the city council has been trying to create a sexually oriented business ordinance for several years. “We wanted an ordinance that would be water-tight according to law,” Hall said.
The ordinance, which is 21 pages long, allows nude modeling for artistic purposes and state-licensed sex therapists, but requires all other sexually oriented businesses in Richmond to — among other regulations — prevent minors from viewing adult-oriented materials or performances. Businesses must also take measures to prevent the solicitation of prostitution, and require all performers to undergo health screenings before being hired. Some of the sexually oriented businesses referred to in the ordinance are adult bookstores, adult theaters and semi-nude dancing agencies.
The ordinance also prohibits the storage, use or consumption of alcohol “on or in the licensed premises.” City Manager Marlowe Adkins said that under this ordinance, such establishments will not be allowed to apply for liquor licenses.
The First Amendment protects these type of businesses and many of the materials and performances they provide as forms of free speech. All cities are required to have an area where these type of businesses are allowed; however, cities “are allowed a bit of latitude on where to put them,” Adkins said.
Most cities allow sexually oriented businesses to operate in areas that are infrequently visited by children, such as industrial districts. Richmond has had zoning regulations since 2001 that have limited such enterprises to the the city’s light industrial and manufacturing zone, Adkins said. This area is located slightly west of 500 West and between 200 South and 100 North.
Adkins said he wants to emphasize that this area is very approximate and that there are no schools or churches located there. He said there are, however, a few residences. He said that should any sexually oriented businesses apply for licenses, these residents would be able to protest the business being established close to their homes but that he cannot predict whether or not the city council will comply with their wishes. Adkins said there are no regulations at this time that require sexually oriented businesses to be a certain distance from homes, churches or schools.
“We can’t prohibit that kind of business,” Adkins said, “if someone wants to go out and take their clothes off out there they can, but I don’t think that’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind.”
In regard to advertising, the businesses would be subject to normal zoning and signage regulations, Adkins said. He also said the businesses would be allowed to advertise via other avenues so long as they do not violate Utah pornography laws.
Richmond’s new business regulation is based on a similar near-decade-old ordinance that was passed in Centerville and has held up to court scrutiny, Hall said. Adkins said he discovered the Centerville ordinance several years ago at the Utah Business License Association Conference where it was being touted as the model for the rest of the state. The council altered the Centerville ordinance slightly to better fit Richmond, Hall said.
Each community is responsible for developing their own laws regarding sexually oriented businesses as long as their laws are in line with Utah law, Hall said.
Hall said no complaints or concerns about the new ordinance have been voiced and he thinks Richmond residents will be happy there are now laws on record regarding sexually oriented businesses.
“I can’t imagine there will be any opposition,” he said.