BLUE EARTH - Soon there will be only a few places in Faribault County where an adult-oriented business could be located.
Michele Stindtman, director of Faribault County Soil and Water, has been working on the wording of an adult use ordinance after she and County Attorney Troy Timmerman got a wake-up call.
"There was a case of another small county where they didn't have an ordinance," Stindtman said. "If you don't have an ordinance that lays out where and how things can happen, there are no restrictions. We didn't have any ordinance, so we couldn't restrict anything from going up."
Stindtman and Timmerman set out to rectify that, borrowing wording from ordinances in other counties, most notably, Murray County.
"It was pretty comprehensive," Stindtman said of that ordinance.
And so is Faribault County's.
"This Ordinance is intended to prevent harm stemming from the physical immediacy and combination of alcohol, nudity and sex," the ordinance reads in Section 2.
Those wishing to read the current draft of the ordinance can view it on Soil and Water's website at faribaultcountyswcd.com, request a copy be e-mailed or view a hard copy at the Soil and Water office in the Ag Center in Blue Earth.
The ordinance covers a wide variety of "adult uses," including adult bookstores, adult massage parlors, adult theaters, adult bathhouse facilities, adult cabarets and adult novelty businesses. And it gets quite specific.
"I was educated going through this," Stindtman said delicately.
The new ordinance specifies no alcohol, only legal adults permitted, certain hours of operation, and the establishment has to be 1,000 feet away from schools, churches and other places.
There are even rules on how the establishment is laid out and run, and the type and size of signs they're permitted to have, Stindtman said.
"We're not saying you can't have one, but you have to meet the criteria," she said.
After observing all the rules in the ordinance, there are only four areas in Faribault County where an adult establishment might be located. Called B-1 Districts or highway business districts, the owners would still have to adhere to other existing regulations, like any other business, Stindtman said, including setbacks on houses and roads.
"The planning commission spent time looking at which area would be most appropriate," she said. The B-1 districts are easy for police to check and are quite visible to the public.
The ordinance only applies to the county, not to municipalities, Stindtman said. City governments would have to enact individual ordinances that applied inside the city limits, and they are free to adopt the county's document as their own.
Some people might bristle at more regulations, but Stindtman said the county isn't trying to play Big Brother.
"County zoning is to protect county health and safety; that's why the county has rules," she said. "It all affects health, safety and welfare. That's why the county zoning commission even exists."
The ordinance is nearly ready and will be presented at a public hearing at 7 p.m. June 25 in the Ag Center conference room. Then the ordinance will be presented to the county commissioners who can approve it or not.
"The board has final say," Stindtman said.