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Mingo seeks to regulate clubs

June 13, 2012
By MARK LAW - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

MINGO JUNCTION - Village Council heard the first reading of an ordinance on Tuesday to regulate sexually oriented businesses in the village.

Village Solicitor Ernest Wilson said the ordinance was prepared by the Ohio Attorney General's office, and has been adopted by communities around the state and upheld in court. Wilson said the ordinance doesn't ban such clubs, but does regulate what can happen at the clubs.

Wilson said the owner or operator of a sexually oriented business and all employees will have to be licensed through the village. The application process will include a photograph taken by a police agency, fingerprints, identifying marks on the body, including tattoos and a criminal background check.

Once an application is received for the owner or operator and all employees, the police department will conduct a review and submit the results to Village Council. The fire department and county health department will inspect the building to make sure it complies with the regulations of the fire department and health department. The village administrator also will inspect the building to make sure it complies with the village property maintenance and zoning codes.

Within 21 days after receipt of the sexually oriented business license application, Village Council will meet to approve or deny the request. The application can be denied because required information is missing or not completed.

The license also can be denied if the applicant has been denied another license elsewhere in the past 12 months or had a license revoked by any other jurisdiction, or the applicant has been convicted of a sexually oriented crime, including promoting prostitution.

The sexually oriented business can have its license revoked for prostitution, allowing controlled substances or illegal drugs into the business or allowed an act of specified sexual activity prohibited under the ordinance.

The ordinance also will not allow a person to appear before a patron in a state of nudity. Employees are allowed to be semi-nude but must be on a stage separated by a specified distance from patrons, and must not be touched by a patron.

The business is not allowed to operate between midnight and 6 a.m., unless there is a liquor license setting the hours of operation, but the sexually oriented side of the business must end at midnight.

Wilson said the ordinance will apply to any existing businesses.

"We are not shutting down any business. We are just regulating how they can operate," Wilson said.

Council also approved an ordinance updating the policies of obtaining water service in the village.

A deposit of $150 is required by anyone requesting water service. No water service shall be provided to any customer who is not the owner of the property until the owner agrees to accept responsibility for unpaid water bills.

Landlords have to notify the village of any change in occupancy of rental properties within five days of the change. Service will be denied to any property owner who is delinquent in any amount on any property owned in the village.

The village will notify the owner of a disconnect for water and sewage service if the bill is not paid within 15 days of the due date. A 10-day notice then will be given. Once water is disconnected, there will be a $50 fee to reconnect the water service.

Councilman Jack Brettell, who chairs the water and sewer committee, said the village has been losing money on unpaid water and sewage bills. He said the village will be protected with the updated ordinance.

Council also heard the first reading of an ordinance to accept Wintersville as a member of the Steel Valley Regional Transit Authority.

Wintersville has been receiving bus service on a trial basis since August 2010. Frank Bovina, SVRTA general manager, said Wintersville ridership has been increasing.

Under the ordinance, Wintersville and Mingo Junction will have two board members, with Steubenville having four.

Bovina said an operating levy for all three communities will be placed before the voters probably in the primary election of 2013.

He said there is a current operating levy for Steubenville and Mingo Junction through 2015.

Council also heard from a representative of AEP about turning off certain streetlights in the village. Brettell noted the village is paying about $4,500 a month for streetlights.

Jim Huggins of AEP said the lights can be turned off at a cost to the village of about $35 for each light, and the streetlights eventually will be removed by the utility. Huggins said homeowners can pay to have a light mounted on a power pole near their home.

Councilman James Morrocco said he is against removing streetlights because of crime concerns.

"We shaved the police department. We are shaving streetlights. We might as well put up a sign that says, 'come rob us,'" Morrocco said.

Council also:

Was informed by Village Administrator Frank Fuscardo that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency may pull its $175,000 no-interest loan for the Lincoln Avenue sewer separation project because work hasn't begun. Council's water and sewer committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. on June 21 to discuss the matter.

Discussed concerns about the condition of McLister Avenue during a project to replace gas lines.

Discussed more cost overruns for the splash pad project. The project originally was going to cost about $200,000 but has risen to $295,000. Fuscardo said the electrical service from the pool to the splash pad now has to be upgraded because of safety concerns. Morrocco and Brettell both said too much many has been spent on the project, which is being paid for out of the village's community complex fund.

Announced the finance committee will meet at 4 p.m. on June 28 to discuss the six-month finance report from village Clerk John Angelica.

Announced the first concert at Aracoma Park will be held from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on June 27 featuring Paul Grant, a keyboard player. Churches in the village will be selling food and refreshments and other items during the concert.

Approved a resolution to express sympathy to the family of Michael Herrick, a village employee who recently died.

(Law can be contacted at

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