Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Adult zone opposed for downtown Covington

By Ray Schaefer
Enquirer Contributor

        COVINGTON — Residents told the City Commission on Monday that the best way to halt growth in the city's downtown is to place a zone for adult entertainment businesses there.

        Commissioners are expected to give an ordinance creating such a zone the first of two required readings at a meeting at 7 p.m. today at City Hall.

        The proposed zone is divided into two sections: a four-block area from East Fourth Street to halfway between East Fifth and Sixth streets, with a portion of Madison Avenue and Electric Alley; and one square block bordered by East Fourth Street, Park Street, Court Street and Scott Boulevard.

        City zoning specialist Dennis Uchtman said there are 11 sexually oriented businesses in Covington.

        If the turnout of about 75 at Monday's public hearing is an indication of what residents think, commissioners might have a hard time convincing people a downtown adult entertainment zone is a good idea. The three main reasons cited by those opposed: higher crime, lower property values and more urban blight.

        “What I heard was the biggest bunch of malarkey since Osama bin Laden said he had nothing to do with (last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington),” said Jim Butler, an attorney representing the Covington Business Council.

        David Langdon, the Sharonville attorney the city hired to draw up the zone, said the city needs to come up with a zone before someone decides to put an adult business anywhere.

        “We feel the space we're providing is not too little but not too much,” Mr. Langdon said.

        The city has been considering where to put an adult entertainment zone for at least a year. It earlier rejected putting it near an industrial park in the southern end of the city.

        The Kenton County and Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission also recommended that the city reject the zone.

        All 16 people who spoke at the meeting rejected the proposal. Many were members of the First Christian Church on West Fifth Street, which is near the zone and which members said is an older congregation.

        “This is a terrible place to put these zones,” said the Rev. Kay Peacock, pastor at First Christian. “Ironically, you are placing First Christian in one of these zones. Our three-story building could become available (if the congregation disbands) to an adult entertainment business. That's a frightening thing.”

        City Solicitor Jay Fossett said the church could attach a requirement to the deed that the building not be used for an adult establishment.


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