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Published April 10, 2013, 12:15 PM

After being sued, East Grand Forks concedes adult-store law needs rewrite

The city is being sued by Fantasy's, an adult-oriented business that it had previously tried to close down. Now city leaders say Fantasy's is right that city laws are too vague.

By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald

Fantasy’s, an adult-oriented business in East Grand Forks, is suing the city, claiming its adult-use zoning ordinance is not constitutional because its definitions are vague.

Ron Galstad, the city attorney, pleads guilty to the charge.

“Our definition of adult use is under attack because it’s ambiguous, not specific,” he said. “Our definitions are indefensible (in court).”

The process of changing ordinance language starts Friday, when the Planning and Zoning Commission holds a public hearing to remove ambiguities and pattern its language after an ordinance written for Grand Forks, which also had a Fantasy’s store.

Plans also call for the City Council to adopt an interim ordinance calling for a moratorium on adult-use stores and drafting a licensing ordinance similar to the one in place in Grand Forks. The process will take about six months, Galstad estimated.

Cities can’t ban adult stores, he said, but they can designate where they’re located. An adult store would be placed in an industrial zone in East Grand Forks, he said.

“Rewriting the ordinance really isn’t about Fantasy’s,” Galstad said. “It’s about their lawsuit against us.”

City Administrator Scott Huizenga agreed. “It’s not targeting the current business,” he said. “It’s to bring clarity to our ordinance.”

Fantasy’s, located just north of Louis Murray Bridge, remains open.