Court Stifles Free Speech Claim Since County Provides Plenty Of Opportunities For SOBs

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 2:31 am
Land Use Law Report, Volume 46, Number 2

Morrison County, Minnesota threw every book it could find at an adult-use business (AUB) in a bid to protect county residents from the harmful secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses (SOBs).

Facts: The county filed a complaint on October 30, 2003, accusing Lookin Fine Smut & Porno (Smut) of the following violations:

  • Opening an AUB despite the county’s 2-year moratorium prohibiting any new AUBs from opening or expanding within the county until December 12, 2003;
  • Locating an AUB closer to a liquor store and dwelling units than the county’s zoning ordinance allowed; and
  • Operating a business without a properly functioning septic system.

Smut claimed the county violated its First Amendment right to free speech because the county did not provide reasonable alternative means for Smut to communicate, and it showed no substantial government interest in restricting AUBs. Smut also argued it was exempt from the zoning ordinance setback requirements, which the county tightened by amending a 1995 AUB ordinance a few days after Smut’s mid-October 2003 opening. Since Smut was open prior to the amendment’s enactment, it claimed to be “grandfathered in” under the more lenient 1995 ordinance.

County offers reasona[..]