Sexually-Oriented Business Zoning Restrictions Passed

Oct 9, 2019

Fort Wayne City Council unanimously approved several zoning measures Tuesday, including a county proposal related to sexually oriented businesses.

Earlier this year, the city administration attempted to restrict the functions of various “sexually oriented businesses” in Fort Wayne, and despite the claim that it was brought forward to decrease sexually-transmitted infections and human trafficking, many perceived it as a direct target to the Champagne Club -- a swingers’ club that’s been in Fort Wayne for eight years with membership around 6,000 individuals.

The city’s argument fell apart and the measure failed, but Allen County carried on, seeking various zoning restrictions to these businesses and strip clubs.

Under the new guidelines, any sexually oriented business would be limited to intensive commercial -- or “C4” -- zones. They can't be located within 300 feet of each other, 500 feet of any residential or agricultural zoning district, or 750 feet of “any existing or pending” religious institution or school.

Importantly, though, is that it will not affect the Champagne Club, or any established sexually oriented business or strip club already operating in Fort Wayne.

“Zoning ordinances would only apply prospectively, it would not apply retroactively,” Fort Wayne plan commission attorney Robert Eherenman.

Eherenman also says the city will continue working through specific language of the ordinances to ensure businesses like “bars” and “clubs” don’t get targeted unfairly.

A decision to update to the Plan-It-Allen comprehensive plan, introduced in 2007 to collaboratively improve infrastructure and since deemed outdated by the county, was also approved Tuesday night. Each municipality in the plan will contribute $333,530.