A business that calls itself a boutique, not a sex shop, is suing the city of Collinsville, alleging the city is trying to prohibit the business from opening a store there.
After Nebraska-company Zone d’Erotica filed a business license application as a retail business selling clothes and accessories in October 2016, Collinsville City Manager Mitchell Bair allegedly told the company that as an adult entertainment business, it would have to file a separate application, according to a lawsuit filed in March 2017. The complaint was amended Nov. 6 to reflect changes made since the original filing.
Zone d’Erotica maintains that its business is not an adult entertainment business, and says the city incorrectly categorized it as such without seeing a business plan, proposed business operations or inventory, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit said the city’s insistence that Doctor John’s is an adult entertainment business is being used to “deprive Plaintiff of its First Amendment Right to do businesses” in Collinsville.
Doctor John’s planned to open a store at 122 N. Bluff Road in Collinsville.
Bair said the city is not able to comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit is aiming to determine the constitutional validity of Collinsville’s ordinances that prohibit Doctor John’s Lingerie and Novelty Boutique from opening in the city. These ordinances deny the business its due process, according to the lawsuit, and are “arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and unrelated to any legitimate State interest.” It also infringes on the owner’s First Amendment rights, the lawsuit says.
Doctor John’s sells magazines, DVDs and books that show nude or partially clothed people and sexual activity, lubricants, lingerie, swimwear, clothes, shoes, oils, lotions and candles, according to the lawsuit.
In September 2017, Collinsville created new ordinances to regulate zoning and business licenses for adult entertainment businesses. But the lawsuit maintains that allowing the city to define what an adult entertainment business is allows it to censor businesses that deal in “expressive material,” making the ordinances unconstitutionally broad.
Collinsville’s ordinance describes an adult entertainment business as any enterprise that features any of the following:
▪ Adult live entertainment
▪ An adult motion picture theater
▪ An adult arcade
▪ An adult bookstore, novelty store or video store (which has 5 percent of more of its stock with visual representations of nudity or sexual activities, amongst other things; has a mechanical device for viewing sexual material; or has for sale, rental or display anything designed for use in connection with sexual activities)
▪ A cabaret
▪ An adult motel
The ordinance is not meant to limit or restrict access to these materials, according to the text, but it aims to promote the “health, safety, morals and general welfare of people, and to establish reasonable and uniform regulations to prevent the deleterious location and concentration of these businesses.”
But Zone d’Erotica said Doctor John’s is not an adult entertainment business, and it caters to mainly women and couples. Zone d’Erotica owner John Coil did not respond for comment.
This isn’t the first time Collinsville has gone up against a store selling adult products. In 2003, Rodao Drive, a chain of adult book and video stores, took the city to federal court, alleging the city violated its First Amendment rights. Collinsville revised its zoning ordinance after the store was proposed, making it near impossible for the store to open in most of the city’s business areas.
A federal judge ended up ruling that Collinsville’s new zoning ordinances were constitutional, and that Rodao Drive would not be allowed to open anywhere aside from an industrial area. The owner, Jerry Brink, ended up not pursuing an appeal after the initial ruling came down.
Doctor John’s faced a similar battle in North Platte, Nebraska, in 2016. The city ended up finding that Dr. John’s complied with all city requirements, according to the North Platte Telegraph.