AUSTIN EDITION -- County's adult-use zoning in the works
By Amy Olson
Mower County officials say a plan to regulate where strip clubs and adult bookstores are located could go before the planning commission and county board later this summer.
Diana Billings, a zoning expert from Mower County's consulting firm, Dahlgren, Shardlow and Uban, hired to recommend changes to the county's comprehensive planning and zoning ordinance, said the firm will propose limiting such adult-use businesses to industrial zones within the county.
County Board members passed a moratorium in December, prohibiting any new adult businesses for one year, giving officials time to implement a zoning ordinance regulating where enterprises such as strip clubs are located. Under law, the county cannot completely prohibit adult establishments.
The city of Austin allows adult businesses, with the council considering some restrictions. The county ordinance would only affect rural areas not governed by incorporated cities. Billings said the firm is still looking into whether the county could legally ban such businesses since the city allows them.
Mower County Planner Daryl Franklin said the county has allowed some housing in industrial areas under antiquated wording in the zoning ordinance. For instance, a caretaker's home has been allowed in industrial zones if connected with a facility.
"We don't allow factories in the middle of houses. Why would we allow houses in the middle of factories?," asked Mike Adams, who is a member of the county's Board of Adjustment and the comprehensive plan task force. The group has recommended new houses not be allowed in industrial zoning districts.
An ordinance could restrict adult-use businesses, keeping them at least 500 feet away from residential areas and public facilities such as schools, churches and day care centers. The consulting firm is mapping out where those public facilities are located. Once the map is complete, Billings said the proposed ordinance could go before a public hearing of the Mower County Planning Commission.
The proposed ordinance is only one part of a plan to update the county's comprehensive planning and zoning procedures. The county began revising the documents in March 2000.
Billings said the old plan contained assumptions that the county would continue losing population, when, according to 2000 census figures, the county actually grew.