You may have read newspaper accounts about the proposed opening of a strip club, the so-called “Casanova Gold,” on Lecount Place, across from New Roc City. Unfortunately, some of the press coverage on this issue has been confusing, and, as a result, many people with whom I have spoken are uncertain about the City’s position.
Let me take this opportunity, therefore, to make the City’s view very clear. We believe that Lecount is a thoroughly inappropriate location for an adult business and that the opening of such an establishment would be harmful to ongoing efforts to revitalize the downtown. The City has not granted permits or approvals of any kind for an adult business at this site. In fact, the City’s zoning code prohibits adult businesses on Lecount, and we have enforced this prohibition.
In response, the owners of the club have taken the City to federal court where they are challenging our zoning code, claiming that it unconstitutionally restricts free expression. The City is now vigorously defending its law in court and will continue to make its case as assertively as possible.
Now for some history and perspective. Nine years ago, the City adopted a law that prohibited adult businesses within 500 feet of schools, residential zones, houses of worship, parks, urban renewal areas, and other protected classifications. Because of some changes in land use patterns over the years, we have since modified that restriction to 400 feet. Both standards clearly cover Lecount Place and the bulk of our downtown.
One might ask: why wouldn’t the City simply prohibit adult businesses outright, rather than relying on this complicated formula? The answer is that the Constitution, as interpreted by the federal courts, does not permit municipalities to prohibit adult businesses entirely, nor can we adopt regulations that have the practical effect of banning them. Whatever standards we put in place must leave portions of the city in which an adult business could in theory locate. Our law accomplishes this objective at six to eight scattered industrial sites.
The bottom line: New Rochelle is using every appropriate legal tool at its disposal to uphold our adult business law. We believe our regulations are reasonable and Constitutional. We must hope now that the federal judge overseeing this case takes a similar view.