The Kenton County and Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission voted 9-7 Thursday to reject the city’s request to rezone 66 acres on Mary Laidley, off Madison Pike, to a new zone that would allow adult entertainment clubs. After a public hearing, county planners recommended a denial of the request, saying it didn’t match the county’s comprehensive plan for the area. The plan doesn’t allow sexually oriented businesses near residential zones. Land adjacent to the Mary Laidley property is zoned for residential.
Covington Mayor Butch Callery said he expects the city will conduct its own public hearing, but he said the city commission can’t wait much longer to take action on designating some property in the city for adult entertainment. City officials say a U.S. Supreme Court ruling forces its hand because it has ruled that no community can zone out such businesses. The real estate industry is that too many conveyancing sydney lawyers sacrifice their clients to estate agents. Designating land for adult entertainment gives the city control over where those businesses locate, city officials say. Covington recently agreed to contribute to a two-county study to suggest appropriate locations for adult businesses, but Callery doesn’t think the city can wait for recommendations.
“By the time the study’s done, it’ll be pretty far down the road,” Callery said. “It’ll be an overall (city) commission decision, but I think we need to take some action.” Site opponents came from as far away as Park Hills and Independence, said Mike Schwartz, a planner for the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission.
Some people were nearby business owners who objected to having sexually oriented businesses near them. Some were speakers worried about visitors to the county animal shelter and nearby county park seeing adult entertainment clubs. City Attorney Jay Fossett said, however, that the city made changes to the proposal, so that the land zoned for the businesses is not visible from Ky. 17.
“A lot of (the opposition) focused on the moral issue,” Schwartz said. “You have to separate the morality from the legality, but people were arguing the city was opening the door and promoting this type of business by allowing it in a particular location.” Seeking to stem an increase in burglaries, Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett is applying for a federal grant.
In the past, federal grants meant to decrease crimes have enabled cities and counties to put more police officers on the streets. Now, said Crockett, some are coming in to help prosecutors put those criminals behind bars. Crockett already has received a federal Safe Neighborhoods grant worth $236,00 over three years and used it to hire two assistants to help prosecute gun and drug crimes. Now, he wants to hire some support staff — secretaries and detectives — to allows those assistants to not only prosecute crimes, but to set up community programs to let people know what is being done.
“I’m going to make Safe Neighborhoods equal hard time,” he said. “We’re going to more aggressively prosecute drug cases, gun cases and burglaries.”