By JEFF DURBIN, Missourian staff writer
February 17, 1999

Editor's note: Boone County is gearing up for a series of public hearings around the county on proposed land-use revisions. This second article in a three-part series examining several of the proposals. Tuesday we looked at scenic road protection.

Today: Sexually oriented businesses
Thursday: Limits on billboards


Every time she drives Interstate 70 near Boonville, Beth Lammers is bothered by the flying nude woman that adorns Teaser's Palace, along with a gaudy sign flashing "GIRLS" in 4-foot-tall letters to passing vehicles.

"That's the kind of thing we want to keep our children away from," said Lammers, president of the Midway Heights PTA. Lammers followed the adult entertainment debate last year as the Columbia City Council hammered out an ordinance limiting where such businesses can locate.

"We knew the city was voting on regulations and thought those establishments might go out to the county," Lammers said. So she and other PTA representatives asked the Boone County Commission to regulate the industry. "They said there are no regulations, so I sat down and wrote a letter."

The commission asked the planning department to include adult entertainment in its scheduled overhaul of zoning regulations.

The adult entertainment business has been on the hot seat since the city took up the controversy early last year and passed the ordinance in December. Now Boone County is ready with a proposal of its own.

The draft regulation restricts new sexually oriented businesses to light industrial districts and keeps them at least 1,000 feet from churches, schools, homes and residential parks. The regulation applies not only to strip clubs, but also to adult bookstores, video stores, massage parlors and escort services, among other establishments. Existing businesses would not be affected.

Lammers said the PTA is pleased with the proposal.

"As a board, we thought 1,000 feet would be comfortable," said Lammers. "In the country, 500 feet is still very visible."

Linda Klopfenstein, principal of Midway Heights Elementary School, said that although there are no adult businesses in the area now, land is beginning to come up for sale more frequently.

"We just want to be proactive and have a resolution in place before we have to address this as a crisis," Klopfenstein said.

County planners looked at model guidelines from other states and the American Planning Association to draw up the proposed ordinance, planning director Stan Shawver said. The key was to avoid a regulation so restrictive that it would be challenged in court for discriminating against particular businesses.

"Zoning is not supposed to make business decisions," Shawver said.

Columbia faced a similar situation in crafting its ordinance. On the advice of City Attorney Fred Boeckmann, the City Council decided on a 750-foot distance from any church, school and residential area. That left 1.75 percent of the city available - an area deemed large enough to avoid legal problems.

Planning and Zoning Commission chairman Keith Kirkpatrick said he wants to make sure the county doesn't end up being challenged in court for an overly restrictive regulation.

"You may have to shorten the distance," Kirkpatrick said. "I have no objections to the idea, but the logistics need to be worked out."