In an apparent effort to protect its more dignified retail outlets, Red Bank Council approved an ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday night that closes zoning loopholes and would severely restrict sex shops and strip clubs from doing business within the borough.
According to Mayor Pat Menna, court decisions rendered at the State level prohibit towns from completely prohibiting adult oriented businesses. The decisions have made it easier for lascivious enterprises to set up shop in or near the borough's downtown if they chose to, he said, though the closest Red Bank's come to full frontal in recent years has been a racy poster or two taped inside of a bar window.
The newly approved ordinance, which will head to the zoning board for a look over, sets aside the Highway Business Zone District as a potential landing strip for adult oriented businesses. The district is located on a section of Newman Springs Road between New Jersey Transit's coast line and the westerly freight line, an area largely occupied by car dealerships and other assorted businesses.
Though the ordinance allows for adult oriented businesses there, they are further restricted from operating next to dealerships, car washing facilities and municipal buildings, among others.
The no-fine-detail-omitted ordinance covers everything from turgid genitalia to sex paraphernalia when describing adult oriented businesses, eliminating any possible ambiguity that may have remained on the the books.
"I think it's better for us to plug up those omissions," Menna said.
Currently, State law bars sex shops and strip clubs from operating within 200 feet of a school, playground, church, residential neighborhood or child service center, Menna said. That restriction, however, would not be enough to prevent an adult oriented business from locating in parts of Red Bank's downtown, which he admitted could be a turnoff to business owners and visitors.
Though the ordinance wasn't in response to any immediate adult oriented business threat, inquiries have been made in the past. This ordinance should provide Red Bank with the protection it needs.