St. John Council authorizes adult use zoning study

Published 12:17 am Saturday, April 16, 2016

LAPLACE — A recent review of St. John zoning district standards found adult use businesses weren’t listed anywhere as permitted or prohibited in the zoning district standards, parish officials said, necessitating a need for study and defined language.

St. John the Baptist Parish Planning and Zoning Director Alexandra Carter said the regulations don’t specify where adult uses are permitted, but do specify businesses are regulated in selling items that could be obscene, things like sex toys or dirty magazines.

“The regulation doesn’t actually focus on the actual land use, which could be a building or a theater,” she said. “You could have someone come in and build something like an adult theater that doesn’t sell any retail items. We came across the question of ‘Could we prohibit that?’ When we came across this issue it was sort of a red flag.”

Following the recommendation of parish administrators this week, the St. John Parish Council authorized a study of local land use rules and those of surrounding communities in an effort to update zoning district standards.

District 5 Councilman Michael Wright said the adult land uses regulation study is important because adult businesses impact the surrounding community.

“It’s something our youth especially shouldn’t be exposed to,” he said. “We’re always talking about enhancing our recreation department and getting our youth more involved and active in the parish, so we don’t want to expose them to any explicit adult land uses. I’m in favor of the study.”

Good planning practice advises the addition of regulations specific to adult uses to limit their negative impact on surrounding residential and family ordinated uses, Carter said.

This week’s Council ordinance initiates a study of the regulations of adult uses and establishes interim regulations prohibiting adult uses in residential districts and within 1000 feet of an existing residential district, religious institution, school, playground or day care facility.

Interim standards serve as temporary regulations during the course of the study, Carter said.

“The timeline for studies are one year,” Carter said. “We like to complete them sooner, but if we don’t complete them in a year, then we can extend the deadline six months if the Council approves that extension. The adult land use study is going to look how other communities do it. It’s about researching the best practices, looking at case law and then putting together a recommendation based on that information.”