Court settlement requires 'adult' photo studio near Wheaton to close

 
 
Updated 5/22/2019 6:54 PM

DuPage County officials secured a court order Wednesday to close the Hot Shots Photography Studio near Wheaton and settle a lawsuit claiming it is operating as an adult business at a site that violates zoning restrictions.

The agreement will force Hot Shots out of the Gary Avenue building -- an opaque storefront with darkened windows, no exterior identification and neon lights only advertising an ATM -- after months of complaints from neighbors and educators at nearby schools.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The state's attorney's office brought the original complaint against Hot Shots in February after an undercover investigation by DuPage sheriff's deputies.

DuPage County Board member Tim Elliott, who sits on an ad hoc panel considering new regulations for adult establishments, praised the work of law enforcement in filing the suit.

"This is a great victory for the community and for the county," Elliott said.

The business could still move elsewhere in DuPage as long as a new location complies with the county's zoning ordinances. By law, DuPage can't ban adult businesses because the county lacks home-rule power, but officials can restrict where they are located.

Unless it gets an extension, Hot Shots must shut down its Gary Avenue operations by Aug. 11, or shortly before classes resume at Wheaton North High School. If the owners need more time to take occupancy of a new site, the county will give Hot Shots 30 days to leave the space it leases at 0N758 Gary Ave.

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But "under no circumstances" will its occupancy extend past Sept. 11, according to the settlement agreement.

The original lawsuit alleged violations of county zoning ordinances and state statutes regulating the location of adult entertainment establishments and adult uses.

Hot Shots placed personal ads on adult websites commonly used to advertise escort services. Respondents would be screened by an employee and then directed to the Gary Avenue location.

Once they entered the business, according to the lawsuit, they were charged $100 as a cover fee and then directed to a room to meet an employee and discuss services and payment that ranged from $500 to $1,500.

After receiving payment, employees of Hot Shots would engage in sexual activity, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint alleged Hot Shots violated county ordinances by operating and maintaining an adult business in a B2 Zoning district; operating an adult business within 1,000 feet of residentially zoned property; operating an adult business within 1,000 of a school -- in this case both Wheaton Montessori School and Wheaton North High School; and operating an adult business within 1,000 feet of an "active recreational facility" -- in this case Wheaton North's athletic fields.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In its response to the suit, Hot Shots denied it ran the photo studio "in a manner that caused the business to be defined as an 'adult business use' under the zoning ordinance and an 'adult entertainment facility' under state law," according to the five-page settlement.

Elliott said he isn't aware of whether the business is planning to set up shop at another site.

The panel studying proposed regulations on adult businesses in unincorporated areas of the county is set to deliberate May 28. Officials say June is the earliest the full county board can consider a recommendation.

• Daily Herald staff writer Robert Sanchez contributed to this report.

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