INDIANAPOLIS — Officials in southern Indiana's Spencer County didn't violate the Constitution when they tried to regulate an adult bookstore, the state appeals court has ruled.
Ruling in Plaza Group Properties v. Spencer County Plan Commission, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a county ordinance that said sexually themed businesses must be located at least 1,000 feet away from homes, churches or schools.
The three-judge panel said the ordinance did not unconstitutionally restrict free speech and noted that the owners of the 231 Adult Plaza could have built elsewhere.
"The evidence shows that there are at least 34 alternative sites in Spencer County on which Plaza could operate a sexually oriented business and comply with the 1,000-foot restriction," appeals court Chief Judge John G. Baker wrote in the decision released Dec. 13.
Spencer County officials adopted the ordinance about the same time the business opened in November 2005 at the site of a former truck stop at an Interstate 64 interchange about 35 miles east of Evansville.
Spencer Circuit Judge Wayne Roell upheld the ordinance and found 231 Adult Plaza in violation, but the owners appealed, saying the ordinance violated their First Amendment rights.
The Associated Press left a telephone message seeking comment at the office of Cincinnati attorney H. Louis Sirkin, who has represented the business.
An attorney for the county noted that the ordinance did not keep the site from being used for non-adult businesses.
"We are not there to padlock the doors and say they can't do anything on that site," said Scott Wetherill, attorney for the Spencer County Plan Commission. "If they want to operate a convenience store, gas station or restaurant, they can do that, but it must be in conformity with the zoning ordinance."