Limits on Fort Wayne ‘sexually oriented businesses’ proposed

(Photo Provided/WANE)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne City Councilman Russ Jehl plans to introduce an ordinance that would restrict the operating hours for strip clubs and other “sexually oriented businesses” in the city.

Under the proposed ordinance, strip clubs and adult book stores would not be allowed to operate between midnight and 7 a.m. The ordinance is modeled after a similar one that was passed in Gary last March, but Jehl said his proposal is less restrictive.

“It’s a common-sense way to address the nuisance crime and the reduction of property values associated with these types of businesses,” the Republican councilman said.

Jehl said he collected data from the Fort Wayne Police Department which suggests there is about 30 percent more crime happening at strip clubs. There have been a total of 382 police calls to strip clubs from Jan. 1, 2016 to April 21, 2017. There have been a total of 291 police calls to bars during that same time period.

Jehl said 68 percent of the calls happen after midnight.

The ordinance would impact eight strip clubs that are operating in the city. Jehl said another is set to open downtown soon.

“They are proliferating,” he said. “At the beginning of this year there were seven. Now there are eight and there will be nine shortly with one opening downtown soon.”

A manager at Cover Girls, 1525 Production Road, did not want to be identified; however, he told WANE that the move would drastically impact their business. He said 75 percent of business is after midnight, and the club is open until 5 a.m.

If the ordinance is passed, it could force area strip clubs to close, he said.

“There’s a clear problem,” Jehl said. “People also understand these are bad images. Especially because they are located on gateways of our community and they reduce the property value and that’s something that is very important to the city of Fort Wayne.”

Jehl will introduce the ordinance at a City Council meeting on Tuesday. The discussion and preliminary vote will be held on September 5 and Jehl expects a final vote on Sept. 12.

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