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Panel finalizes adult use ordinance

June 26, 2012
Jodelle Greiner - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Faribault County Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday to present an adult use ordinance to county commissioners next week.

If commissioners approve the measure, there will be only four possible places where an adult-oriented business could be built in the county.

County Attorney Troy Timmerman and Michele Stindtman, director of Soil & Water, explained that because Faribault County does not currently have an ordinance in place to govern adult-themed businesses, such establishments could be built nearly anywhere in the county.

Faribault County has borrowed heavily from an ordinance used by Murray County. Stindtman also noted that a land use attorney has reviewed the ordinance that she and Timmerman drafted.

The only places an adult use business could be built under the ordinance is in highway business (B-1) districts. Currently, there are four. That could change if anyone petitioned for an area to be re-zoned.

Along Interstate 90 just east of Highway 169 in Blue Earth, there is a long, curved piece of land zoned B-1, but it is a perpetual easement, meaning "nothing will ever be built in there," Stindtman said. "I anticipate this will go back to [an agricultural zone]."

There is a smaller piece of land just west of Highway 169 also along I-90 in Blue Earth, but there is a dwelling on that property. Given the stipulation that an adult use business must be at least 1,000 feet away from a residence, there might not be enough room, Stindtman said.

The other highway business districts are in Foster Township, along I-90 and County Road 22; and the villages of Brush Creek and Huntley, which are unincorporated and therefore fall under county jurisdiction.

Kellen Borglum lives in Brush Creek. He said he knows of no one who wants an adult use business there.

The ordinance covers a wide variety of "adult uses," including adult bookstores, massage parlors, theaters, bathhouses, cabarets and novelty businesses.

Any adult use business would have to meet setbacks and get a conditional use permit, like any other business, Stindtman noted.

Variances, particularly to setbacks, can be granted, but "there's limits to what variances can do," said Commissioner Tom Loveall, who serves on the planning commission.

To get a conditional use permit, added Stindtman, there would have to be a public hearing.

"Everyone affected will be notified and can come [voice their opinion]," said JR Hanson, chairman of the planning commission.

Johanna Hocker of Blue Earth expressed concern about the quality of life in Faribault County.

"I do not see any adult business that complies with our prevailing community standards," she said.

Kathy Bailey, city administrator of Blue Earth, pointed out the city of Blue Earth has an adult use ordinance in place. She asked that the planning commission change the setback in the county from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet.

Loveall questioned if that change was made whether it is even possible to get an adult business in the county, and whether that could cause legal problems.

"Is it necessary to go to 2,000, knowing they have to meet all these other requirements?" asked Timmerman. "It's more defensible [legally] if there's at least the appearance of being possible."

Charlie Johnson, planning commission member, asked how "residence" was defined, such as whether someone actually had to be living in the building.

Timmerman checked the wording and saw it read "residential dwelling."

"A dwelling is designed for residential occupancy," Stindtman read from another document.

"We will duplicate that definition of 'dwelling' so it will appear in this ordinance as well," Timmerman said.

That change was approved as part of the ordinance that now goes forward to county commissioners.



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