The handful of people attending a recent zoning meeting all seemed to be saying the same thing—
Claremore needs more night life and entertainment downtown.
"We had five members of the public there to speak at the recent public hearing on zoning changes for sexually-oriented business and they were all in favor of the changes," said City Planner Jill Ferenc introducing the zoning changes. "The common thread was needing nightlife and entertainment downtown; microbreweries and tap rooms provide something we're losing to other markets; and those dollars are going elsewhere."
Changes were made to current city code, requiring sexually-oriented businesses to obtain a special exception and are subject to spacing restrictions.
The 300-feet requirement was scratched and now zoning rules state sexually-oriented businesses, like adult novelty stores, cannot be within 1,000 feet of a church, school, park or areas zoned as residential.
"It also stipulates they must have opaque windows, you won't be able to see in from the public view and you have to be at least 18-years old to enter the establishment," said Ferenc. "I've spoken with the business owner [of the existing adult novelty store] in town and he's already got these already. He agrees with the spacing provision. I want to work closely with him in drafting this."
Ferenc said the change in spacing requirements puts the existing business in a state of "non-compliance."
As the code currently reads, the business can be in a state of non-compliance for two years before it will be terminated.
"That basically means it would be put out of business after two years. So, what we're proposing is that it would still be non-conforming so they can't alter or add on to it, but it will not be terminated after two years," Ferenc said.
In terms of alcohol sales, changes were made to city code in order to come into compliance with new state law.
"We've also added microbreweries as an allowed use," she said. "We currently allow breweries only in industrial zoned districts. We provided a definition of breweries—an annual beer production of over 15,000 barrels per year. We're proposing that a microbrewery is a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels and sells a portion of their product directly to consumers through carry-outs and/or on-site taproom or restaurant sales."
The rule change would allow microbreweries to open in commercial districts, like downtown.