Ohio law requires the Attorney General to provide legal guidance to townships and municipal corporations concerning the regulation of adult entertainment establishments. See R.C. §§ 503.52(B)(2) and 715.55(B). The Attorney General has prepared two Sexually Oriented Businesses Model Ordinances, and these Model Ordinances constitute the legal guidance required.
The Model Ordinance Prohibiting Criminal Conduct in Sexually Oriented Businesses provides language defining and prohibiting unlawful activities, and establishing penalties. The Model Ordinance Regulating Sexually Oriented Businesses provides for the potential licensing of an adult establishment and its employees, and for appeals of decisions to deny, suspend or revoke a license. The document also suggests potential regulations to be considered such as lighting, signage and other generally applicable zoning regulations. Neither of the Model Ordinances affect existing state obscenity statutes or similar laws.
Because municipal and township self-government needs may differ, the law leaves it to the local government to enact any additional enforcement, as long as it doesn’t conflict with Ohio’s liquor permit laws or other state law. However, while townships and municipal corporations are free to deviate from the Model Ordinances, the degree of any deviation will impact the Attorney General’s duty to assist in the defense of the Model Ordinance if challenged in federal court.
Local government legal counsel should be consulted first when considering adoption of one or both of the Model Ordinances, as they are in the best position to evaluate local regulatory and enforcement considerations. If legal counsel has questions concerning these Model Ordinances, please contact the Attorney General’s Office, Constitutional Offices Section, at 614-466-2872.
Model Ordinance Prohibiting Criminal Conduct in Sexually Oriented Businesses
Model Ordinance Regulating Sexually Oriented Businesses