SOUTH INDIANA – A federal judge is expected to render a ruling in a recent lawsuit brought by the new owner of the Clarksville Theatair X against the city, ahead of a board meeting on Tuesday that could affect the fate of the company.
Clarksville Ministries, a limited liability company formed on August 3 to reopen the recently closed adult business along US 31, filed an emergency petition for a temporary restraining order on August 27 against the city of Clarksville and its building commissioner, stating that the city has not granted the company a temporary license required under the statute of the city.
The company requested that the decision be made before the Clarksville Planning Commission meeting on September 1 and the Clarksville city council meeting on September 7, where council could take action with a zoning ordinance that means ‘a new adult business cannot open at the same site where Theatair X has been operating for 50 years.
The planning committee voted on Wednesday to recommend language changes to council to the city’s zoning ordinance related to adult businesses. A change in the distance between a mature business and other types of developments is included. Specifically, it states that an adult business cannot be within 750 feet of other types of businesses, including the 2019 apartment-renovated motel that is just under 750 feet from the hotel. part of the Theatair X building. The current zoning buffer zone prior to the potential change is 500 feet.
Scott Bergthold, representing Clarksville in the case, said in oral argument Friday morning in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana that the zoning change would not affect the entire flat where Theatair X is located , but that he would include the building itself as being too close.
He also said updates were overdue and the city wanted to protect the community from the negative side effects of an adult business while adhering to the First Amendment, which states they cannot be zoned out of. the city. In the new zoning language, new adult businesses will be located in one of the 30 locations zoned I-1 or I-2.
The previous owner, Midwest Entertainment Ventures, Inc. (MEV), had been engaged in an ongoing litigation with the city since 2019, when it filed an action against the city for revocation of its business license. The building commissioner took the step after multiple zoning code violations, including customer sex on the premises, and a license suspension in the previous 12 months.
MEV closed its doors after a Clark County judge on August 12 upheld the city’s decision to revoke the company’s license for one year, although that action was not final and MEV had always an active provisional license. However, on Wednesday, the former owner dropped the case against Clarksville.
Clarksville attorneys say the city was unable to approve a temporary license because the Clarksville Ministries application itself was not complete and they believed the company didn’t even have still concluded the sales agreement with the previous owner to be able to apply. On Tuesday, the new owner was made aware of the deficiencies in the request so that they could be corrected.
Part of that was to include a detailed layout of the building’s interior, as well as the location of the light fixtures, lawyers said during oral argument Friday morning in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
Clarksville Ministries had submitted such a document, but Clarksville representatives said it did not include details of the 40 or so peep show kiosks the previous owner operated, but the new owner said the company did not intend to use.
Clarksville Ministries attorney Matt Hoffer said the company would not even be aware of the shortcomings of the claim without the ongoing lawsuit, and said the city had “stuck” and no There was “no reason why the license was” issued, “he said, adding that the inaction was retaliation from the city.
He also argued that although the city said it needed a precise interior design for things like first responders knowing where to go inside the building in the event of a fire or any other emergency, this was not something they previously had when re-issuing the license from the former owners of Theatair X.
The judge, referring to the fact that in the new zoning the Theatair X building would be excluded by about a foot, asked Bergthold “Is this pure coincidence or is it retaliation?”
Nothing that happened “is evidence of retaliation,” he said.