Butler County communities continue to fight sex oriented businesses

Butler County communities continue to fight sex oriented businesses

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West Chester Twp. started a trend in Butler County where local governments began prohibiting live sex act or sexual encounter businesses. Fairfield is the fourth local government to ban the type of business. The city’s law goes into effect at the end of 2017. Pictured is what was to be the Champagne Club, whose owners petitioned West Chester Twp. in 2015 to open. It was eventually denied and resulted in a lawsuit the township settled. NICK GRAHAM/FILE

Sometimes local governments change zoning laws, or re-evaluate its regulations, because of what’s happening next door.

That’s the case in Fairfield, where after a swingers club lost a bid in 2015 to open in West Chester Twp. — and a subsequent lawsuit that cost West Chester Twp. more than $150,000 — the city evaluated its own sexual oriented business laws, which resulted in banning businesses that offer live sex acts and sexual encounter businesses.

“It became an issue around here because of the case in West Chester Twp.,” said Fairfield Development Services Director Greg Kathman. “We all pay attention to what’s going on with our neighbors.”

And that’s why West Chester and Liberty townships as well as the city of Monroe all have updated its sexual oriented business zoning laws to prohibit sexual encounter businesses.

Fairfield Law Director John Clemmons said other local governments around Ohio are placing similar restrictions on live sex act businesses, but believes it’s “sporadic.”

“I didn’t do a survey of other counties about it, but it has been discussed at municipal law conferences so I’m aware that other jurisdictions have tightened their restrictions on these live sex act businesses,” Clemmons said.

Fairfield held its first public hearing on the zoning change in October and held three readings of the legislation. No one spoke in opposition of the zoning change.

After West Chester Twp. banned sexual encounter businesses, Liberty Twp. and then Monroe passed similar laws.

While this isn’t a statewide trend, it could be, said Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren. He said being against these types of businesses is a political “slam-dunk position for local officials” since there’s not much support in most communities for these types of businesses.

Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller said this push was not just from the city administration or council, but “a majority” of residents don’t want live sex act or sexual encounter businesses in the city.

Fairfield first addressed the issue of sexually oriented businesses in 1996, which defined where these businesses can be located. In 2007, the Ohio Attorney General provided communities with “model ordinances” on regulating sexually oriented businesses and prohibiting criminal conduct, such as live sex acts, within those businesses.

Not all in Butler County are ready to ban live sex act or sexual encounter businesses.

Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins has told the Journal-News on multiple occasions the administration or city council are not considering any changes to its zoning laws around sexually oriented businesses, and there had been no issues with such businesses in Middletown.

Club SinDay, a private swingers club in Middletown, has operated on Cincinnati-Dayton Road for the better part of a decade.

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