Fear of potential lawsuits could lead to Troy ‘porn district’ - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Fear of potential lawsuits could lead to Troy ‘porn district’

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TROY, N.Y. -- For years Troy has prevented new adult stores from setting up shop in the city by passing moratoriums, but some fear that sets the city up for a potential lawsuit.

The zoning decision would allow shops that sell adult DVDs, magazines, and sex toys to open their businesses in the south end of Troy.

The approximately 70-acre area stretches from Canal Street to the Menands Bridge, including the Rensselaer County Jail and numerous abandoned industrial sites, Council Member Mark McGrath said.

"That's an area that's not populated," McGrath, who voted in favor of the proposal, told NEWS10. "The only people that go down there are the guards and the prisoners."

But the owner of the Irish Mist Pub on 2nd Street in Troy, Donald Russell, says he wasn't aware of the new zoning proposal until NEWS10 told him.

"I was flabbergasted when you informed me of this decision," says Russell. "Why you'd want to plant that in the middle of a neighborhood -- totally shocks me."

For years, the city has turned away sex shops despite having no legal authority to do so, McGrath said. The attempt to re-zone is intended to protect the city from legal action.

"They could sue and win," he said of prospective business owners. "There was no doubt. Our lawyers were very aware of that, and very nervous of it."

Council member Ken Zulewski already voted against the zoning in a finance committee meeting, and he says if his constituents within the district don't want that type of business, he'll be voting no again in the final vote.

"We have younger families in the neighborhood moving in I feel like they would not feel comfortable with that type of business right around the corner," says Zulewski.

But the city says the south end is the only large enough area the city could find where the adult stores would be far enough away from schools and churches.

"I think they are using this as the scapegoat neighborhood for the city," says Russell.

If the proposal were to pass, new sex shops would have to be located at least 300 yards away from the nearest home or school, McGrath said. Existing businesses are grandfathered into the law.

The full council is scheduled to vote on the proposal at its April 4th meeting.

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