Wichita Pressuring Adult Stores to Close

WICHITA, Kan. — A new ordinance took effect Tuesday in Wichita relegating adult businesses to areas zoned for industrial or commercial use, and the city is attempting to convince two affected stores to close, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The law was originally passed in 2005, and of the nine stores located in non-approved zones, four have since closed, and three may be forced to close, relocate or sue the city on grounds of constitutional infringement.

City officials did not identify the two stores in negotiations.

Dale Goter, a Wichita spokesman, said the city was not likely to sue the businesses directly, but would respond if they challenged the law's validity. "There's no unique legal perspective here," Goter said. "It's a done deal. Now it's just following the prescribed path."

Local attorney Charles O'Hara, who represents several of the affected stores, called the ordinance "a ridiculous bunch of politics," and said, "The owners do not intend to voluntarily move. A court is probably going to have to order them out."

Spearheading the effort to enact the new zoning law was Jan Beemer of Operation Southwind, a religious right group with ties to anti-porn crusader Philip Cosby.

"We would expect the city to proceed forward legally," Beemer said. "They should be charged like you or I would be charged if we were violating an ordinance."

Under the new regulations, adult stores may not be located within 500 feet of churches, schools, licensed day care centers, public parks, residential districts, an Old Town area entertainment district or other sex-oriented businesses. One of the above, however, may not move into an area in order to force an adult store out.