CLARKSVILLE — A Clark County judge has approved a preliminary injunction cutting the hours an adult business can operate in Clarksville and requiring reconfiguration of its interior.
On Thursday, Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael issued an order approving a preliminary injunction sought by the Town of Clarksville against adult theater and store Theatair X on U.S. 31.
It states that the business must immediately get into compliance with aspects of two Clarksville ordinances — specifically by limiting hours to be closed between midnight and 6 a.m, and reconfiguring the building interior so that a manager can view all areas of the business except restrooms. The business is restricted from operating its theaters and peep show booths until the space is reconfigured. Civil penalties of up to $7,500 per day can be imposed if they don't comply.
In her ruling, Carmichael cites case law from the Indiana Supreme Court of appeals in her decision.
"Where a municipality seeks a temporary injunction against violations of zoning and police power ordinances, it need only show 'the existence of a valid ordinance and a violation of that ordinance,'" it reads.
The motion for the injunction was filed in July by the town, citing ongoing violations to the zoning ordinance, updated April 2018, and the Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance, adopted as part of the town municipal code in June. The latter ordinance is the one which lays out the new hours of operation.
Carmichael also denied motions for dismissal by Midwest Entertainment Ventures, Inc., which owns the business, and AMW Investments, Inc., the entity which owns the land.
"The judge is the judge, she makes the decisions," Dave Mosley, co-counsel for Midwest Entertainment Ventures said. "We disagree with her reasoning, analysis and factual determination, but so be it."
The business has 30 days to appeal the order, which Mosley said they plan to do. But they still need to be in compliance in the meantime, Greg Fifer, attorney representing the town, said. An order was delivered to Theatair X Friday by Clarksville police, alerting the business to the injunction. If the owners choose not to comply, the court can find them in civil contempt.
"My position would be they need to start closing at night if they want to be in compliance with the ordinance and the injunction," Fifer said. A call seeking comment from Louis Sirkin, lead attorney representing Theatair X, was not immediately returned by press time Friday.
The preliminary injunction is just the latest in a civil action filed by Theatair X this year. In May, the business filed an administrative appeal in court, after the town council voted in March to revoke its business license. The town sought to revoke the license based on previous alleged zoning code violations and a license suspension within the past 12 months, related in part to what police said were illicit sex acts taking place on the premises
The preliminary injunction approved Thursday remains in effect until the license revocation appeal is decided. If the business retains its license after those proceedings, the town will pursue a permanent injunction for the court to force the business to comply.
"I think it's right; I think we cited cases all over the country both federal court and state court that has upheld these kinds of time and manner regulations," Fifer said in response to the injunction. "In fact in many of the cases, communities had required closure for longer than we did, as early as 10 [p.m.].
"So I think the town adopted a very reasonable limitation in order to avoid adverse secondary effects of adult businesses and I think the court got it right by saying that's an enforceable ordinance requirement."