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Published April 09, 2012, 09:32 PM

GF Council Committee: Pass New Sex Shop Ordinance

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks City Council's Finance Development Committee made a recommendation Monday night on the proposed ordinance that would keep the sexually-oriented business Fantasy's from opening near an elementary school.

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - The Grand Forks City Council's Finance Development Committee made a recommendation Monday night on the proposed ordinance that would keep the sexually-oriented business Fantasy's from opening near an elementary school.

The committee recommends that the ordinance should be passed. There are still a few amendments to the ordinance that will be discussed with the full city council next week.

But as it is, Fantasy's will not be able to open in its proposed location on North Washington Street.

"If this store is allowed to open, I know we will be leaving and I know many other families who also rent in that area who also want to buy there will also be leaving," north Grand Forks resident Grace McNally said.

"Doesn't the city have something better to do with their time? Don't we have more pressing issues than to worry about what our children will be exposed to?" Roland Reimers, who supports the store, said.

After hearing from a number of people on both sides of the debate over Fantasy's proposed location, Council members shared their own thoughts. Their number one issue was the store's location just one block from Winship Elementary.

"I'm disappointed that you people did not see that. We're not enjoying this, you're not enjoying this," City Council President Hal Gershman said.

The proposed ordinance will set licensing requirements for sexually-oriented businesses. That includes stores like Fantasy's and Romantix. But it also applies to businesses like strip clubs or semi-nude model studios. All businesses Grand Forks hasn't licensed in the past.

"Laws are never proactive, they're always retroactive, trying to address a problem that wasn't anticipated or something that becomes a problem," Council member Dough Christensen said.

The Finance Development Committee is recommending the Council passes the ordinance at its next meeting Monday. But it still hasn't been decided how far away these businesses need to be from churches, parks, schools or residences.

"500 feet to me is not restricive enough. I'm more about 1,000 feet or even 1,200 feet," Christensen said.

There is also a suggestion of a grandfather clause. This will mean Romantix can stay at its current location but the store will be changing some things inside to meet licensing requirements if this ordinance passes.

The store would have to add some type of monitoring to their viewing booths. Most likely video cameras and more lighting. Employees would also need background checks.

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