The Palestine City Council will consider zoning ordinances to regulate sexually oriented businesses during its regular council meeting this Monday.
The meeting is open to the public and will start at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, located at 504 N. Queen St.
According to members of the council, the City of Palestine is not seeking to attract or promote sexually oriented businesses. But in line with the United States Supreme Court — which has affirmed the First Amendment right of a sexually oriented businesses to operate — local and state governments cannot prohibit their operation.
What the city can do is to adopt zoning ordinances to limit where, when and how the establishments operate. For example, municipal governments can prevent sexually oriented businesses from setting up shop near churches, schools or residential neighborhoods — a measure that has been discussed at length by the council in work sessions earlier this year.
According to city staff, the purpose of the zoning ordinance is to isolate or limit their development in the city. Additionally, permitting requirements can be put in place in an effort to protect public health and safety.
Approximately one year ago, the City of Palestine received a single inquiry from a sexually oriented business. While the business took no further action, the council instituted a moratorium on the acceptance of applications for the establishment of sexually oriented businesses within the city limits.
The moratorium expires on July 18.
“We currently do not have a request to operate one of these businesses, nor is the City of Palestine trying to promote this type of business in the city,” Development Services Director Jeffery Lyons said. “However, the review we are going through would help us if we ever did receive an application.”
Council members said the plan is to review and adopt zoning changes to specify where development may occur, should the city ever be approached again. Accordingly, the council is in the process of researching and developing stringent standards that would allow the city to control the operations of these facilities.
Citizens may comment on this issue by contacting the city manager’s office or their council member.
City council meetings are open to the public, and public input is welcomed. For more information on council meetings please visit www.CityofPalestineTx.com, where you can download an agenda (posted 72 hours before the meeting), or call 903-731-8400.