Adult businesses and strip clubs probably won’t be opening up alongside Manitou Springs’ ice cream parlors and souvenir shops.
The Manitou Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved regulations that will likely prevent the opening of such “sexually oriented businesses” because of required buffer zones from homes, schools, churches and other establishments.
The city has been trying since 2010 to create licensing requirements for strip clubs, adult theaters, porn shops and other erotica vendors. But in the densely developed mountain community, officials have struggled to find locations that might be suitable for those businesses.
“An ordinance is needed just to provide a regulatory framework,” said Manitou Springs Mayor Ken Jaray. “It was a long, tedious process, but I think the outcome is good and it fits well for our community.”
The regulations, which are slated for a final vote at the next regular City Council meeting on March 19, state that any sexually oriented business be at least 750 feet from residential property, parks, trails, places of worship, libraries, daycare centers, educational institutions, marijuana shops and liquor stores.
City staff have not mapped out the regulations to see how much of the city is covered by those buffer zones. But there’s likely to be little space, if any, where sexually oriented businesses would be allowed, said Manitou Springs Planning Director Kim Johnson.
The City Council passed a six-month moratorium on sexually oriented businesses in February 2017, after the city’s Planning Department heard from a few people who asked about establishing such businesses within city limits, the city’s former administrator previously told The Gazette. Officials were concerned that, if an entrepreneur wished to open an adult business, the city would have little control over where it was located.
That moratorium was extended multiple times and is now set to expire at the end of April, according to Johnson, who became planning director last fall. She said Wednesday that she was not aware of anyone who has recently expressed interest in opening an adult business in the city.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that municipalities cannot ban adult businesses because they are protected by the First Amendment; however, cities and towns may establish regulations dictating where and how they can operate.
Colorado Springs established similar regulations in 1995. The city is now home to four licensed sexually oriented businesses: two Pleasures entertainment clubs, a movie theater and a bookstore. Some lingerie stores and boutiques also sell adult merchandise.
In addition to establishing a licensing process, Manitou Springs’ proposed ordinance offers other provisions: no alcohol allowed, servers must be fully clothed, patrons must put gratuities in a tip jar or box instead of giving the money directly to entertainers, and devices or novelties that depict sexual acts or certain “anatomical areas” can’t be visible from outside.