'We want to hear their side of the story': DuPage County invites 'adult' businesses to testify at panel
After listening to residents concerned about a variety of adult businesses in unincorporated areas, a DuPage County Board committee wants to hear from owners of those establishments before recommending what, if any, regulations should be imposed on them.
Since January, the six-member panel has heard testimony from residents, school officials, social service providers, health officials and law enforcement officers about the "negative secondary effects" of adult businesses.
Ultimately, the panel is expected to recommend regulations aimed at reducing the effects of adult businesses.
But before that happens, the panel is inviting owners, managers and employees to testify in two weeks.
"We want to hold the record open so that we can hear from the adult business community," said Tim Elliott, a Glen Ellyn Republican who serves on the ad hoc panel. "We've heard all this testimony about the issues they cause. We want to hear their side of the story."
As of Wednesday, officials had reached out to the operators of the Zebulon Adult Boutique near Roselle. They also plan to extend invitations to Hot Shots Photography Studio near Wheaton and a third establishment near Roselle.
"If they think they're not creating secondary impacts, it's only fair to give them a chance to appear before us and testify under oath," Elliott said.
County board member Dawn DeSart, an Aurora Democrat, says it's up to the adult businesses to decide if they want to be part of the discussion.
"If they don't choose to come, then at least we invited them to come and speak," said DeSart, who serves as vice chairwoman of the committee.
Once the ad hoc committee is done hearing testimony, it will focus on possible solutions, according to Julie Renehan, the Hinsdale Democrat who heads the committee.
The list of options the committee will consider includes creating an adult business license, implementing a licensing program for all businesses, and requiring an occupancy permit any time a nonresidential building changes ownership or gets a new tenant.
"I think we have some compelling ways to combat the situation," Renehan said. "As a committee, we need to deliberate and discuss what we think is best."
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 Hot Shots. Then, in late September, a shooting left a 29-year-old security guard dead at the now-closed Bella One Spa.
County board members said the problems highlighted the need for DuPage to create new regulations for adult businesses.
Meanwhile, the state's attorney's office is suing Hot Shots. The lawsuit claims Hot Shots is an adult business, not a photography studio, and shouldn't be allowed to operate at its current location.