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Published April 02, 2012, 10:13 PM

City Council Declines to Vote on Sex Shop Ordinance, Sends Issue to Committee

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks City Council chose not to vote Monday night on an ordinance drafted a few weeks ago that would have prevented the adult store Fantasys from opening on North Washington Street, about one block from an elementary school.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks City Council chose not to vote Monday night on an ordinance drafted a few weeks ago that would have prevented the adult store Fantasys from opening on North Washington Street, about one block from an elementary school.

Instead the council will put the matter through committee meetings, something it usually does before voting on new ordinances, but never did with this one.

After over an hour of debate and comments from the public, the City Council decided with a five to two vote that the ordinance needs more deliberation.

Council ember Curt Kreun made the motion to suspend the vote and move it back to committee.

"I think we have to vet those issues at this point in time to get back to us the system that we've put in place ourselves to vet these issues on both sides," Kreun said.

City council president Hal Gershman says the store's location near Winship Elementary is the biggest issue, citing the school's already declining enrollment.

"This situation could harm that initiative and that's very important to the people in the audience to have a neighborhood school. We made a very big committment in this city, the school district did to maintain our neighborhood schools," Gershman said.

Fantasy's store owner Kim Patterson says she has followed all city laws but yet still hasn't been issued a building permit.

"Currently I fit into all the zoning requirements. We have a daycare close to where we are at, there's a grade school not that far from where we're at in Fargo. Not once have we had a problem," Patterson said.

But an ordinance drafted by city attorney Howard Swanson seeks to license sexually-oriented businesses like Fantasy's. It would prohibit those stores from opening 500 feet from any school, residence, public park or church.

Patterson's lawyer calls that ordinance a violation of the Constitution and North Dakota state law. He says Monday night's decision by the council is a step in the right direction.

"We look forward to the opportunity to make our further presentation before that committee if they see the facts and the law as we believe they exist. This ordinance shouldn't exist," lawyer Jonathan Garaas said.

The ordinance will be discussed at the finance development committee next week.

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