East Hartford Imposes Moratorium on Adult

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — The East Hartford Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved an eight-month moratorium Wednesday on new adult businesses so officials could study their effects on the community.

This moratorium comes in the wake of two lawsuits filed against the town by company owners planning to open strip clubs there. At the same time as imposing the moratorium on new businesses, the commission lifted many of its regulations on existing ones, noting that it had unintentionally zoned out adult establishments, which is unconstitutional.

Kimberly Coleman, attorney for suing business owner Mark Chu, told the Journal Inquirer, "This is what I call a knee-jerk reaction to a lawsuit filed against them."

Chu filed suit in October in New Haven's U.S. District Court against the town, Mayor Melody A. Currey and every commission member, charging them with maintaining unconstitutional zoning laws.

The second suit, making the same complaint, was filed Jan. 7 by Pitkin Street Entertainment LLC and owner Joseph Sullo in the U.S. District Court in Hartford against the town and zoning inspector Gary Zalucki.

Commission chairman Anthony Kayser said at the start of Wednesday's specially called meeting that it had nothing to do with the pending litigation, and that the town was simply modifying its guidelines to keep them up to date and legal.

Town planner Michael Dayton stated that officials plan during the forthcoming moratorium to examine the so-called  "secondary effects" of adult business, so that his office can negate those effects.

Dayton presented an extensive log of police calls to existing clubs the Venus Lounge and Kahoots to underscore the issue.

Nearly all distancing requirements for adult establishments were thrown out in the proceeding, save for that prohibiting them from being located within 1,000 feet of another adult business.

Several residents spoke out at the meeting in favor of enforcing regulations against adult businesses, and Board of Education chairwoman Mary Alice Dwyer Hughes said, "I just urge you to keep in mind the concern for quality of life in the town of East Hartford. The last thing we need in East Hartford is a red light zone."