City commission, residents oppose adult-use re-zoning

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published February 27, 2013

MOUNT CLEMENS — Members of the Mount Clemens City Commission made it clear Feb. 19 that they, like many residents, are against any zoning modifications that would allow adult-use businesses — like X-rated book and video stores and topless bars — in areas closer to the city’s residential neighborhoods.

Mayor Barb Dempsey said rumors began to spread following a January commission meeting during which a Planning Commission line-item proposal to make zoning changes to restrict locations of adult-use businesses died due to a lack of support.

“Neither the city administration nor I are advocating for adult entertainment in our community,” she said, adding that there have been no requests and no discussions regarding potential new businesses.

The proposal sought to change the current zoning ordinance and prohibit adult entertainment establishments, which would also include adult theaters and tattoos parlors, from the downtown area. Under the proposal, such businesses would have to be at least 400 feet from a residential neighborhood.

Dempsey defended her comments made during that January meeting after city commissioners took no action on the proposal recommended by the Planning Commission and the city planner.

“We are a policy-making board,” she said, meaning members of the City Commission should have at least discussed, made recommendations or taken some kind of action on the issue.

“Nobody is saying this (zoning ordinance) should be changed.”

City Commissioner Joe Rheker said another reason residents became upset about the proposal is because it appeared to be “hidden” in the agenda.

“A lot of people didn’t know about it,” he said. “I want more transparency.

“And I think the commission’s inaction was action,” Rheker continued.

Commissioner Matt Dreger said that, had the proposal been discussed, he had planned to suggest such businesses be located 1,000 feet from residential neighborhoods, thus keeping them restricted to a much smaller area inside city limits.

“We don’t want another Jewel Theater that was on Main Street,” he added, referring to the short-lived adult-film house that closed in the 1980s.

Regardless of the City Commission’s views on the topic, many residents were on hand during the recent Tuesday meeting to voice their concerns.

Gloria Haller called the proposed zoning “very disturbing” and hopes nothing further comes of it.

“Tell the Planning Commission to get their head out of the sand … until then, they’re not putting it (adult-use businesses) in our neighborhoods,” she said.

John Foglyano said such establishments would adversely affect property values, would create blight, “disturbances and annoyances,” and may eventually force both residents and businesses to move out of the city.

Resident Roseanna Ondra — one of a large group of people from the Kendrick Area Neighborhood Watch association sporting T-shirts that read “Responsibly Nosey” — simply stated that adult businesses don’t belong in areas where young children like her son live and play.

“These areas are in our backyards,” she said.

The proposal is slated to come back to the City Commission in March.