Town to update regulations on adult entertainment businesses

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Last night at the Town of Jackson Council meeting, officials voted unanimously to place a temporary moratorium on the acceptance or consideration of applications or licenses for new adult entertainment businesses and sexually oriented businesses. Adult entertainment businesses and sexually oriented businesses are classified as a business that is part of the sex industry, such as sites of erotic performance and erotic paraphernalia stores. This issue of Jackson's current regulations on adult entertainment businesses were brought up by Town Attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis because they are currently in conflict with the U.S. supreme Court rulings. The current Jackson ordinances on these businesses state: Jackson Municipal Code § 9.28.020: “[i]f any person is guilty of keeping or maintaining or is an inmate of, or in any way connected with, or in any way contributes to the support of any disorderly house, or house of ill fame, or place for the practice of fornication, or knowingly or willfully owns, or is interested as landlord or proprietor of any such house within the corporate limits of the Town, every such person is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Ord. 17 § 2, 1926; Ord. 15 § 8, 1926.).” Jackson Municipal Code § 9.28.010: “[a]ny person keeping a dance house within the limits of the Town where lewd or disorderly persons assemble together for the purpose of dancing, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined in any sum as provided in Section 1.12.010 of this code. (Ord. 289 § 12, 1982; Ord. 14 § 2, 1926.)” According to town documents: "The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the individual right to engage in the adult entertainment business and for individuals to patronize such businesses. However, studies show that in the area immediately surrounding these businesses there are increased incidence of public indecency, prostitution, spread of disease, illicit drug use and trafficking, personal and property crimes, blight, litter, and sexual assault and exploitation. These “secondary effects” negatively impact community character, decrease safety by increasing crime, and devalue property in the surrounding areas. As a result, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that municipalities may regulate these businesses, not based on the content of the protected activity, but because of the negative secondary effects associated with the businesses." As a result, Cohen-Davis recommended an emergency town ordinance to place "a 180 day temporary moratorium on the acceptance or consideration of applications or licenses for new adult entertainment businesses / sexually oriented businesses for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or welfare." This time will allow time to study the effects of these businesses on the community, to decide if regulation is necessary and to alter Land Development Regulations (LDRs) if needed. During the meeting, Councilman Jim Stanford questioned the need for an emergency ordinance. "In 23 years of living here, I don't believe that there has been an application," he said. "The issue has bubbled up a few times, but I don't think there has been an application." Cohen-Davis agreed that in her nine years in Jackson she has also not seen an application for one of these types of businesses. In the end, the Town Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance for a 180 day moratorium on adult entertainment businesses or sexually oriented businesses. *Feature Photo: Town Attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis speaks at the December 7 Town Council meeting.* #buckrail #news