Adult bookstore takes legal action to overturn DuPage regulations

The owner of the only adult bookstore in unincorporated DuPage County is seeking to have the county's new licensing program for adult businesses declared unconstitutional.

Zebulon Enterprises Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit because the county enacted an ordinance in June establishing an annual license for adult businesses in unincorporated areas that provide on-premises entertainment, including private viewing booths.

Zebulon, which has operated for decades along Lake Street near Roselle, claims in the lawsuit that DuPage's ordinance violates the First Amendment, violates due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches.

The lawsuit wants the court to block enforcement of DuPage's ordinance and, ultimately, overturn it.

“Plaintiff will suffer irreparable injury from the enforcement and threat of enforcement of the ordinance, and will continue to suffer irreparable injury until the threat of enforcement is lifted,” the lawsuit reads.

Paul Darrah, spokesman for DuPage State's Attorney Robert Berlin, declined to comment about the specifics of the lawsuit because it's pending litigation.

“As with any lawsuit brought against the county, State's Attorney Berlin intends to vigorously defend the county's position in this case,” Darrah said.

Zebulon became the only adult business in unincorporated DuPage after the county subjected it and similar establishments to zoning changes and “costly legal wrangling” in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the lawsuit.

DuPage government, according to the lawsuit, has “tolerated” the existence of one adult bookstore until recent events “involving a spate of prostitution operations completely unrelated to Zebulon's bookstore business, provided what the county perceived as the perfect opportunity to once again attempt to drive it out of business.”

The lawsuit highlights a comment that county board Chairman Dan Cronin made in December when he created an ad hoc committee on adult businesses. It quotes Cronin saying, “We'll do the best we can to get these businesses out of our community.”

The county committee spent six months gathering testimony and other information about the secondary effects of adult businesses before crafting the new regulations.

Zebulon's lawsuit claims the committee used “a blunderbuss approach,” collecting “what appears to be all of the available information.” However, the hearings didn't produce any concrete evidence that Zebulon's operation had caused any particular problems, according to the lawsuit.

Under the ordinance, adult business owners are required to get a license and renew it each year. Employees of those businesses are required to get identification cards issued by the county. In addition, businesses must meet minimum standards through the county building and zoning department and be subject to inspection by the sheriff's office.

The lawsuit says DuPage's ordinance “is designed and intended to unconstitutionally restrict free expression by eradicating all adult businesses from the jurisdiction.”

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