Dania Beach Enforces Adult Business Zoning Law

Porn Studies

Miami Herald, 10/15/06 - Dania Beach officials are enforcing a law that allows adult entertainment businesses only in certain industrial areas in the city.

The shelves at Video Showcase once held nearly 60,000 adult titles, lining many of the walls from floor to ceiling.

Now, roughly two-thirds of that stock has been moved to storage.

Patricia Lamicella's business has taken a hit, but she's had little choice.

A new enforcement effort of a 2001 Dania Beach law is leaving the city's four adult businesses with a choice: make major changes to their establishments or move into an industrial neighborhood on the edge of town.

Some businesses are fighting the city in court, saying officials are trying to run them out of town altogether. But Lamicella is trying to fit in.

In Dania Beach, businesses that devote less than 20 percent of their floor space to adult videos or novelties are not considered adult entertainment and are allowed to stay.

''We're going to be doing an entire overhaul just to stay in business,'' said Lamicella, 45. "It's pretty brutal. It's very hard, but we have no option. This is my only business.''

But bars that feature nudity, like the Fantasy Lounge strip club on Griffin Road, must move to certain industrial areas in the city. The 25-year-old nude dancing establishment isn't going without a fight.

Lawyers for the club filed suit against the city earlier this month, arguing that the law essentially zones the businesses out of the city and uses irrelevant studies to show adult establishments lead to higher crime, among other problems.

The city is sticking to its plans.

''Relocating these X-rated operations in the city I think is essential,'' Mayor Pat Flury said.

The city's two other adult establishments -- Your A to X Video Outlet on Stirling Road and the Fetish Box on Dania Beach Boulevard -- also were put on notice that they had until the end of September to comply with the law.

The 2001 law forces adult establishments to relocate to areas zoned for industrial, research, office or marine use.

Those areas are mostly west of Interstate 95, between Interstate 595 and Griffin Road.

They also must be at least 1,000 feet from residential property, houses of worship, schools, places selling alcohol or public parks.

Businesses had until 2004 to move, but none did.

''Basically, they can't be within 1,000 feet of anything,'' said David Scott, the lounge's lawyer. "The courts have ruled you can zone these types of businesses to a particular area, but if with that zoning scheme the end result is they have nowhere to go, that violates their First Amendment rights.''

The struggle is the latest in an age-old conflict between cities and adult businesses.

Last year, Sunrise officials adopted tougher restrictions on adult businesses trying to move into the city, but the only strip club currently in the city was allowed to stay.

Davie enacted a six-month moratorium last year on any adult business wanting to move into the town while it revised zoning codes. That moratorium has expired.

Scott believes his client will prevail and pointed to suits like Lollipop's Gentleman's Club vs. City of Daytona Beach, where a federal court found the city's law violated the First and Fourteenth amendments.

''Our position is that the zoning regulation was enacted specifically to remove my client from that area,'' Scott said.

City Manager Ivan Pato called the recent enforcement "part of a long-term plan announced many years ago to relocate these businesses to a more appropriate area. . . . This is just one of many rezoning undertakings that we're in the middle of. We're not singling anyone out.''

Attorneys for Your A to X Video Outlet hired a real estate firm to look at the law and find locations in the city where the business could still operate.

The real estate firm factored in requirements for distance from schools, libraries and roads, among others.

''Our expert has determined that in actuality there are no places within the city of Dania Beach that an adult entertainment establishment, as you classified my client, can locate lawfully,'' attorney James Benjamin wrote in a letter to the city.

At the Fetish Box, the owners have consolidated their stock of adult DVDs and novelty items to comply with the law.

Like the owner of Video Showcase, they say their sales have taken a hit.

These days, Lamicella, the owner of Video Showcase, said the store looks pretty empty. She felt she had no choice but to follow the city's rules.

''If we want to stay, we really don't have an option but to comply,'' she said. "I don't have any other source of income. This has been my store for a long time.''

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