May 21, 2018
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Bath council to consider banning adult entertainment clubs

By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff

BATH, Maine — Prompted by an inquiry from a Bangor-area man who is interested in opening an adult entertainment club at the site of the current Riverside Pub, the City Council on Wednesday will consider whether to enact a moratorium on such establishments.

A Bangor-area man visited Bath Code Enforcement Officer Scott Davis’ office last week and “proposed to have a strip club where the Riverside Bar is,” Davis confirmed Friday. Davis said he told the man he would need a special amusement license, which the city council would have to approve, but that “from a zoning standpoint, it’s a bar — it just would have adult entertainment.”

Deputy City Clerk Pam Gray said someone did request an application last week for a special amusement license, but no applications have been returned.

Special amusement licenses are required if a business plans to sell liquor and also offer entertainment, including any amusement or performances.

Jimmie Ellis, the spokesman for ownership group Arayos LLC, said Friday that he has no plans to open a club in Bath. Arayos owns Diamonds Gentleman’s Club in Bangor, which opened last year.

According to city solicitor Roger Theriault, “it is uncertain” whether adult entertainment is allowed in the city.

In a memo dated April 26, Theriault wrote that because adult entertainment is not an express use allowed within the land code, it’s not clear whether it can be allowed at all or must be allowed anywhere because the use is not explicit.

He proposed a 180-day moratorium on licenses or permits be granted, prohibiting “any activity defined as an adult use establishment,” to allow city staff and the planning board to review “this complicated area of the law.”

“[The] constitutionally protected rights of such establishments … [are] rather significant,” Theriault said.

The overriding issue is how the city can constitutionally regulate a business which he described as “not particularly pleasant to community members.”

Theriault advised that the council has a number of options, including regulating use through zoning; prohibiting nude dancing if an establishment serves liquor; or enacting an “obscenity ordinance.”

In Bangor, according to Theriault, a court upheldBangor’s zoning ordinance prohibiting nude entertainment establishments within 500 feet of schools, churches, residential districts or other sensitive uses.

“The court essentially concluded that the ordinances were aimed at nude entertainment[s] secondary effects (crime, lower property values, location next to day care centers or schools),” Theriault wrote.

The council on Wednesday will consider first passage of a moratorium prohibiting the issuance of licenses or permits for the establishment or operation of an adult use establishment. The council will meet at 6 p.m. at Bath City Hall.

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