DuPage County is looking for new ways to regulate adult businesses

  • The Bella One Spa along Lake Street was closed after a deadly shooting in late September. Now a DuPage County Board committee is examining issues related to adult businesses in unincorporated areas.

    The Bella One Spa along Lake Street was closed after a deadly shooting in late September. Now a DuPage County Board committee is examining issues related to adult businesses in unincorporated areas. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 3/1/2019 6:30 AM

The adult businesses along Lake Street in northern DuPage County are well known to anyone who drives the busy roadway.

What's not widely known is that the adult bookstore and spas, including the now-closed Bella One Spa, are in an unincorporated area and not Roselle.

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And that is a source of frustration for Roselle officials.

"If they were to drive on Irving Park Road or cut through on Roselle Road, they'd have a whole different take on what Roselle is about," said Patrick Watkins, the village's community development director.

Adult businesses on Lake also have been a drain on village resources and hindered development, officials said.

"I cannot tell you the amount of times our police department is answering a call involving these businesses on our side of the street," Roselle Mayor Andy Maglio said. "They use our side of the street to line up appointments for them to meet up with people."

Watkins and Maglio were among residents, business owners and public officials who testified this week in front of the DuPage County Board's ad hoc committee on adult businesses.

The six-member panel is examining issues related to adult businesses in unincorporated areas. The goal is to develop plans to mitigate what county officials call the "negative secondary effects" of such businesses on the community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

By law, DuPage can't ban adult businesses because the county lacks home-rule power, but it can restrict where they are located.

Last year, residents started raising concerns about several businesses, including an adult photography studio that opened near Wheaton. Then, in late September, a shooting left a 29-year-old security guard dead at Bella One Spa.

County board members say such problems highlight the need for DuPage to create new regulations for adult businesses.

On Thursday, the state's attorney's office announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Hot Shots Photography Studio. The lawsuit alleges that Hot Shots has been operating as an adult business, not as a photography studio.

As part of the lawsuit, DuPage is seeking to temporarily and permanently prohibit Hot Shots from operating an "adult business use" at its current location or any other prohibited unincorporated location in the county.

"I'm pleased that after several long months, the residents near this business finally have some relief," county board Chairman Dan Cronin said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In the meantime, Cronin said the ad hoc committee is "working toward proper regulations to reduce the harmful effects" of adult businesses.

Jeff Schuler, superintendent of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200, this week spoke to the panel about Hot Shots, which is near Wheaton North High School. The business has no exterior sign and darkened windows.

"As soon as that business opened, we got on influx of calls from parents registering concern about safe passage of kids to school," he said, adding that some students park in a lot across the street from the business.

The lawsuit says Hot Shots is operating within 1,000 feet of Wheaton North and its athletic fields, which are used by hundreds of students during the spring sports season.

"Our students are at an age where they can obviously look across the street," Wheaton North Principal Matt Biscan said. "They can see this is an adult business."

Back on Lake Street, the owners of Woodland Windows and Doors say they've made significant improvements to their property through the years. Still, they're frustrated that adult businesses have operated nearby.

"We've tried to set a standard right on the corner of Lake and Gary (Avenue) so that businesses east of us would begin to follow suit," co-owner Ken Mariotti said. "But that hasn't happened in all the years we've been there."

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