House Minority Staff Report
CHOUTEAU -- State Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Choteau Monday (July 7) announced his intention to ask legislative and executive branch leaders to call the Legislature into special session to address adult-oriented businesses in unincorporated rural areas.
The Chouteau Democrat said he would send his request to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin; House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview; and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, who have the authority to call a special session before the next regular legislative session convenes in February 2015.
Sherrer said his request has been prompted by rumors of an all-nude strip club to be located in the heart of one of Oklahoma's largest Amish communities located between Inola and Chouteau, in Mayes County.
“My sources have been unable to confirm whether the proposed location will become an all-nude club,” Sherrer said. “But whether it does or not, this topic needs to be addressed to give unincorporated rural areas that are not subject to countywide or municipal zoning some form of protection.”
Land records reflect the property just east of the Mayes County line on U.S. 412 was purchased last year by an out-of-state man who owns three other such clubs in other states, Sherrer said. A worker on the site has indicated to a local county commissioner he had signed a non-disclosure agreement and could not discuss the project.
The legislation Sherrer proposes to introduce in the special session would create a buffer zone of 1,000 feet between any adult sexually oriented business and the property line of any property actually devoted to residential or church use. In addition, there would be specific definitions for different types of adult sexually oriented business to avoid ambiguity and loopholes in the law.
Enforcement would be achieved through injunctive relief sought in district court, and non-conforming uses would have two years to comply with the law.
Sherrer reports that he has been contacted by “small and large landowners, farmers and ranchers, members of the Amish church and community and members of denomination in Mayes County who are united in opposition to adult sexually oriented businesses in rural areas.”
Said Sherrer, "I understand that my rural constituency does not want the burden of extensive zoning requirements and the accompanying government bureaucracy. That's why it would be appropriate to create a statewide remedy to protect values reflected in rural Oklahoma."
Though special legislative sessions are rare, Sherrer said, he is “hopeful the content and urgency of this topic will generate a much-needed response for rural Oklahomans.” In the event a special session is not called, Sherrer indicated he will file a measure in the 2015 legislative session to address the matter.
It would take a minimum of five days to enact any legislation introduced during a special session.
Legislative officials estimate the cost of a special session at $20,319 per day for the 101-member House of Representatives; costs for the 48-member Senate are not known.