DuPage may require background checks, inspections for adult businesses
Adult businesses in unincorporated DuPage County soon could be required to go through a licensing process that would include annual inspections and background checks of their owners, employees and performers.
DuPage County Board members are expected to vote Tuesday on a proposed adult entertainment ordinance designed to establish regulations "to minimize and control the negative secondary effects of adult business uses and sexually oriented businesses."
"We've done a very thorough vetting of the issues, and we kind of saw where zoning was not protecting the community," said county board member Julie Renehan, chairwoman of a committee that spent months gathering testimony and other information before recommending the new regulations. "I think we do have a good solution."
The vote on the ordinance comes more than a year after residents started raising concerns about Hot Shots Photography Studio near Wheaton.
DuPage eventually filed a lawsuit claiming the establishment along Gary Avenue is operating as an adult business at a site that violates zoning restrictions. To end the litigation, Hot Shots has agreed to leave the space it leases by no later than Sept. 11.
County officials say the Hot Shots case underscores why DuPage needs a licensing program.
By law, DuPage can't ban adult businesses because it lacks home-rule power, but it can restrict where they are located.
In the case of Hot Shots, officials had difficulty determining what type of business it was, in part because there's no exterior sign. It has darkened windows and neon signs that read "ATM" and "Open 24 Hours."
A licensing program would make it easier to identify an adult business.
"We've kind of learned our lesson from Hot Shots," said county board member Tim Elliott, a Glen Ellyn Republican. "We're not trying to combat the issues we face today in DuPage County. We're trying to combat issues that might be coming sometime in the future."
While DuPage's proposed ordinance won't ban adult businesses, Elliott said it would "make sure they are operating in a responsible manner."
If the change is approved, adult businesses would be required to get a license and renew it each year. The process would include annual inspections and background checks of the owners and employees.
Adult entertainers who perform at a DuPage establishment also would be required to get an adult entertainer license.
"We want to know who is working in these establishments," said Renehan, adding that it would help protect the employees.
There's also going to be an enforcement process to deal with complaints. In addition, on-premises entertainment, including private viewing booths, won't be allowed between the hours of 2 and 6 a.m.
Renehan, a Hinsdale Democrat, said the hours restrictions were proposed because there are "a lot of negative impacts in and around these adult businesses during certain hours."