published on
19 December, 2016

Shelburne advances strip club zoning
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Strip clubs operators look-out: New town bylaws being proposed would hide away signs and set venues out of sight so the town's section of U.S. 7 can maintain its character.

The winter cold might have kept many residents away from a public hearing on Thursday, where the Planning Commission added adult-entertainment uses to existing zoning bylaws. This will limit the impact of adult entertainment venues on the town, before any potential businesses take root.

Anthony Seidita was one of two community members passionate enough to brave the windchill to add a few ideas in person.

Seidita referenced two clubs Zen Lounge in Burlington and Venue in South Burlington which closed this year.

"I think those same problems and issues will come along with any type of adult night club, from murder, to fights, to police officers being injured when they are called. I hope we do our homework," Seidita said.

There are no submitted applications for a gentleman's club, or as a community member called it, a strip club. An inquiry was made in October regarding the town's zoning for adult entertainment, which prompted officials to make sure they had a means to regulate the First-Amendment protected form of self-expression.

The board was careful to be content-neutral and not to limit any particular type of free speech or expression as they discussed the effect of adult entertainment businesses on neighborhoods. They used their authority to regulate the circumstances in which the free speech may be allowed to take place.

"Whether it's parking related or community character related these are the types of secondary effects we are looking to identify and receive public comments," Jaime Heins, chairman of the Shelburne Planning Commission, said after the board worked to personalize a bylaw template taken from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns regarding adult-oriented businesses.

Heins wrote in an email that there is no critical percentage of residents required to testify regarding reduced property values, increased crime rates and lowering the community character by association with these business. But he explained that the municipality needs to create a legislative record showing the commission and Select Board have the public's support.

The town allowed for adult entertainment in the mixed-use zoning district along portions of Shelburne's northern U.S. 7 corridor from the border of South Burlington to the LaPlatte River bridge.

Heins wrote that he received six emails from Shelburne residents expressing their views. All have been added to the public record. Chairman Gary von Stange wrote that over 100 residents had contacted him with their concerns.

The board voted unanimously to accept the changes to the bylaw. The Select Board may have a publicly warned hearing as soon as this winter.

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