MICHIGAN CITY | Driven by a proposal for a gentleman's club just outside its borders, Michigan City has adopted restrictions to discourage adult entertainment businesses from locating within city limits.
The City Council on Wednesday adopted the ordinance after eight months of research, which included how strip clubs and other adult businesses throughout Northwest Indiana operate.
Officials knew of no adult businesses that have expressed any official interest in Michigan City, but said they think it's just a matter of time.
"We want to be prepared for it," Mayor Ron Meer said.
The ordinance allows businesses such as strip clubs and adult book stores only in areas zoned for manufacturing.
Those type of establishments also must be at least 700 feet away from neighborhoods, churches, schools and playgrounds.
The ordinance was drafted with help from Duncan Associates, a Muncie-based consulting firm that presented statistics on the ill effects adult establishments have on property values and youths.
"With these establishments come, I believe, detriments to your community," Meer said.
Councilman Chris Schwanke said the city's only previous restrictions were part of a measure adopted in the 1990s that worked to eliminate several massage parlors disguised as houses of prostitution.
He said that ordinance was not nearly enough to govern where strip clubs can go and how they operate.
A gentleman's club is currently being proposed by Chicago-area businessman John Burys near U.S. 35 and U.S. 20, just east of Michigan City. Burys' original site at U.S. 421 and 300 North just south of the city was defeated in 2011.
"That kind of spearheaded it, absolutely," Schwanke said.
Schwanke said visits to adult establishments in Northwest Indiana factored into restrictions in Michigan City's measure. The city requires dancers to remain onstage and not mingle with customers and prohibits back rooms where lap dances and other lewd activity could occur.
"We can regulate it so it's a safe, clean and well-done facility," Schwanke said.