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County, bookstore close to settling legal dispute

By Joshua Lynsen

jlynsen@postbulletin.com

Olmsted County is closer than ever to settling a 2-year-old legal battle against an adult bookstore.

Brokered earlier this year by attorneys representing Olmsted County, High Forest Township and the operators of Pure Pleasure, the settlement demands that county officials rewrite and clarify an ordinance governing adult businesses.

At issue was a passage in the ordinance that defined an adult bookstore as any store with a "substantial or significant" amount of pornographic products. The rewritten ordinance refines the definition to say adult bookstores are those with 25 percent or more pornographic inventory.

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Approved Tuesday by county commissioners on a 4-2 vote, the change was generally regarded as a positive step. But some commissioners wanted to enact additional restrictions.

Matt Flynn and Jim Bier, who both previously voted against pursuing the settlement, said the county should license any store that carries pornographic material. Bier said licensing would help the county track who is selling what.

"Everybody's licensed," he said. "Garbage haulers are licensed. Pawn shops are licensed. But we're afraid to go this direction with this business?"

Commissioner Ken Brown, however, urged the board to support the settlement. He said challenging Pure Pleasure operators DiMa Corp. and Malcolm Inc. in court would be risky and expensive.

"Without this change, we are vulnerable," he said. "We have been told by legal counsel we would lose -- for sure."

Pure Pleasure, High Forest Township and Olmsted County have been embroiled in a legal battle since the business opened near Stewartville in October 2002.

Township officials argue zoning ordinances prohibit an adult business within 1,000 feet of an existing or planned residential development. Stewartville wants to develop land near the store for residential use.

The store's operator has simultaneously sued the township in federal court. That case challenges the constitutionality of the county's adult business laws. The proposed settlement would end this case and, by agreement, the other lawsuit.

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