Fantasy's lingerie store sues East Grand Forks over "adult uses" ordinance

The town of East Grand Forks appears to have a very PG approach to commerce.

Earlier this month, the city informed the owners of a new shop called Fantasy's that they were in violation of the "adult uses" ordinance, and therefore had to relocate. Fantasy's countered with a federal lawsuit alleging that the ordinance is overly vague and unconstitutional.

"They appear to have adopted a position that says if you sell any adult material whatsoever, you're an adult use, and you have to locate in the industrial zone, " says Randall Tigue, attorney for Fantasy's. "Which means a convenience store in the city couldn't sell Playboy."

Based out of Fargo, Fantasy's opened in East Grand Forks in early May. According to its website, Fantasy's has a long list of inventory, ranging from lingerie, to bachelorette party favors, to "inflatable friends."

About 10 percent of items for sale fall into the "sexual novelties" and "adult videos" categories, the lawsuit states.

The store was open for about a day when city planner Nancy Ellis told the owners in a letter that "the sale of sexually oriented devices" classified them as a "sexually oriented store" and therefore must adhere to the adult use ordinance.

Here's the definition of adult use from the city:

ADULT USES. Uses which include a sexually oriented arcade; sexually oriented bookstore; sexually oriented video store; sexually oriented store; sexually oriented cabaret; sexually oriented conversation/rap parlor; sexually oriented massage parlor; sexually oriented motel; sexually oriented theater; sexually oriented steam room, bath house or sauna; or a nude model studio. Activities classified as obscene as defined by M.S., § 617.241, as it may be amended from time to time, are not included.

Tigue says the ordinance is too broad. "The city is completely free to adopt any arbitrary and capricious definition they can," he says.

East Forks city officials were served with the lawsuit last week. The city council will hold a private meeting later today to discuss the suit.

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