Township of Washington, PA
Berks County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Washington 11-12-1992 by Ord. No. 1992-6. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Peace and good order — See Ch. 79.
Zoning — See Ch. 131.
Fees — See Ch. A137.
It is the purpose of this chapter to regulate sexually oriented businesses in order to promote the health, safety, morals and general welfare of the citizens of the Township and to establish reasonable and uniform regulations to prevent the continued deleterious location and concentration of sexually oriented businesses within the Township. The provisions of this chapter have neither the purpose nor effect or imposing a limitation or restriction on the content of any communicative materials, including sexually oriented materials. Similarly, it is not the intent nor effect of this chapter to restrict or deny access by adults to sexually oriented materials protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States or to deny access by the distributors and exhibitors of sexually oriented entertainment to their intended market. Neither is it the intent nor effect of this chapter to condone or legitimize the distribution of obscene material.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ADULT ARCADE
Any place to which the public is permitted or invited wherein coin-operated or slug-operated or electronically, electrically or mechanically controlled still- or motion-picture machines, projectors or other image-producing devices are maintained to show images to five or fewer persons per machine at any one time and where the images so displayed are distinguished or characterized by the depicting or describing of specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.
ADULT BOOKSTORE or ADULT VIDEO STORE
A commercial establishment which, as one of its business purposes, offers for sale or rental for any form of consideration any one or more of the following:
A. 
Books, magazines, periodicals or other printed matter or photographs, films, motion pictures, videocassettes or video reproductions, slides or other visual representations which depict or describe specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas; or
B. 
Instruments, devices or paraphernalia which are designed for use in connection with specified sexual activities. A commercial establishment may have other principal business purposes that do not involve the offering for sale or rental of material depicting or describing specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas and still be categorized as an adult bookstore or adult video store. Such other business purposes will not serve to exempt such commercial establishment from being categorized as an adult bookstore or adult video store so long as one of its business purposes is the offering for sale or rental for consideration the specified materials which depict or describe specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.
ADULT CABARET
A nightclub, bar, restaurant or similar commercial establishment which features:
A. 
Persons who appear in the state of nudity or seminudity;
B. 
Live performances which are characterized by the exposure of specified anatomical areas or by specified sexual activities; or
C. 
Films, motion pictures, videocassettes, slides or other photographic reproductions which are characterized by the depiction or description of specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.
ADULT MOTEL
A hotel, motel or similar commercial establishment which:
A. 
Offers accommodations to the public for any form of consideration; provides patrons with closed-circuit television transmissions, films, motion pictures, videocassettes, slides or other photographical reproductions which are characterized by the depiction or description of specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas; and has a sign visible from the public right-of-way which advertises the availability of this adult-type of photographic reproductions;
B. 
Offers a sleeping room for rent for a period of time that is less than 10 hours; or
C. 
Allows a tenant or occupant of a sleeping room to subrent the room for a period of time that is less than 10 hours.
ADULT MOTION-PICTURE THEATER
A commercial establishment where, for any form of consideration, films, motion pictures, videocassettes, slides or similar photographic reproductions are regularly shown which are characterized by the depiction or description of specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas.
ADULT THEATER
A theater, concert hall, auditorium or similar commercial establishment which regularly features persons who appear in a state of nudity or live performances which are characterized by the exposure of specified anatomical areas or specified sexual activities.
ESCORT
A person who, for consideration, agrees or offers to act as a companion, guide or date for another person or who agrees or offers to privately model lingerie or to privately perform a striptease for another person.
ESCORT AGENCY
A person or business association who furnishes, offers to furnish or advertises to furnish escorts as one of its primary business purposes for a fee, tip or other consideration.
ESTABLISHMENT
Includes any of the following:
A. 
The opening or commencement of any sexually oriented business as a new business;
B. 
The conversation of an existing business, whether or not a sexually oriented business, to any sexually oriented business;
C. 
The additions of any sexually oriented business to any other existing sexually oriented business; or
D. 
The relocation of any sexually oriented business.
PERMITTEE AND/OR LICENSEE
A person whose name a permit and/or license to operate a sexually oriented business has been issued, as well as the individual listed as an applicant on the application for a permit and/or license.
NUDE MODEL STUDIO
Any place where a person who appears in a state of nudity or displays specified anatomical areas is provided to be observed, sketched, drawn, painted, sculptured, photographed or similarly depicted by other persons who pay money or any form of consideration.
NUDITY or a STATE OF NUDITY
The appearance of a human bare buttock, anus, male genitals, female genitals or female breast.
PERSON
An individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, association or other legal entity.
SEMINUDE
A state of dress in which clothing covers no more than the genitals, the pubic region and the areolae of the female breast, as well as portions of the body covered by supporting straps or devices.
SEXUAL ENCOUNTER CENTER
A business or commercial enterprise that, as one of its primary business purposes, offers for any form of consideration:
A. 
Physical contact in the form of wrestling or tumbling between persons of the opposite sex; or
B. 
Activities between male and female persons and/or persons of the same sex when one or more of the persons is in a state of nudity or is seminude.
SEXUALLY ORIENTED BUSINESS
An adult arcade, adult bookstore or adult video store, adult cabaret, adult motel, adult motion-picture theater, adult theater, escort agency, nude model studio or sexual encounter center.
SHOW BAR
A commercial establishment which regularly features persons who appear in a state of nudity or live performances which are characterized by the exposure of specified anatomical areas or specified sexual activities and where patrons may bring their own alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises.
SPECIFIED ANATOMICAL AREAS
The male genitals in a state of sexual arousal and/or the vulva or more intimate parts of the female genitals.
SPECIFIED SEXUAL ACTIVITIES
Includes any of the following:
A. 
The fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals, pubic region, buttocks, anus or female breasts;
B. 
Sex acts, actual or simulated, including, but not by way of limitation, intercourse, oral copulation or sodomy;
C. 
Masturbation, actual or simulated; or
D. 
Excretory functions as part of or in connection with any of the activities set forth in Subsections A through C above.
SUBSTANTIAL ENLARGEMENT (of a sexually oriented business)
The increase in floor areas occupied by the business by more than 25%, as the floor areas exist on the date of the enactment of this chapter.
TOWNSHIP
The Township of Washington.
TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP OR CONTROL (of a sexually oriented business)
Includes any of the following:
A. 
The sale, lease or sublease of the business;
B. 
The transfer of securities which constitute a controlling interest in the business, whether by sale, exchange or similar means; or
C. 
The establishment of a trust gift or other similar legal device which transfers the ownership or control of the business, except for transfer by bequest or other operation of law upon the death of the person possessing the ownership or control.
Sexually oriented businesses are classified as follows:
A. 
Adult arcades.
B. 
Adult bookstores or adult video stores.
C. 
Adult cabarets.
D. 
Adult motels.
E. 
Adult motion-picture theaters.
F. 
Adult theaters.
G. 
Escort agencies.
H. 
Nude model studios.
I. 
Sexual encounter centers.
J. 
Show bar.
A. 
Failure of a person who operates a sexually oriented business to obtain a valid permit issued by the Township constitutes a violation of this chapter.
B. 
An application for a permit to operate a sexually oriented business must be made on a form provided by the Building Official of the Township. The application must be accompanied by a sketch or diagram showing the configuration of the premises, including a statement of total floor space occupied by the business. The sketch or diagram need not be professionally prepared but must be drawn to a designated scale or drawn with marked dimensions of the interior of the premises to an accuracy of plus or minus six inches.
C. 
The applicant must be qualified according to the provisions of this section, and the premises must be inspected and found to be in compliance with all other Township ordinances.
D. 
If a person who wishes to operate a sexually oriented business is an individual, he or she must sign the application for a permit as applicant. If a person who wishes to operate a sexually oriented business is other than an individual, each individual who has a ten-percent or greater ownership interest in the business must sign the application for a permit as applicant. If a corporation is listed as owner of a sexually oriented business or as the entity which wishes to operate such a business, each individual having a 10% or greater ownership interest in the corporation must sign the application for a permit as applicant.
E. 
The fact that a person possesses other types of Township permits does not exempt him or her from the requirement of obtaining a sexually oriented business permit.
A. 
The Township Building Official shall approve the issuance of a permit to an applicant within 45 days after receipt of an application, unless he or she finds one or more of the following to be true:
(1) 
An applicant is under 18 years of age.
(2) 
An applicant or an applicant's spouse is overdue in his payment to the Township of taxes, fees, fines or penalties assessed against him or her or imposed upon him or her in relation to a sexually oriented business.
(3) 
An applicant has failed to provide information reasonably necessary for issuance of the permit or has falsely answered a question or request for information on the application form.
(4) 
An applicant is residing with a person who has been denied a permit by the Township to operate a sexually oriented business within the preceding 12 months or residing with a person whose license to operate a sexually oriented business has been revoked within the preceding 12 months.
(5) 
The premises to be used for the sexually oriented business have not been approved by the Fire Department and the Township Building Official as being in compliance with all applicable Township laws and ordinances.
(6) 
The permit fee required by this chapter has not been paid.
(7) 
An applicant of the proposed establishment is in violation of or is not in compliance with any of the provisions of this chapter or any other Township ordinances.
B. 
The permit, if granted, shall state on its face the name of the person or persons to whom it is granted, the expiration date and the address of the sexually oriented business. The permit shall be posted in a conspicuous place at or near the entrance to the sexually oriented business so that it may be easily read at any time.
C. 
The Township Building Official shall complete his or her certification that the premises is in compliance or not in compliance within 30 days of receipt of the application by the Building Official.
The annual fee for a sexually oriented business permit shall be established, from time to time, by resolution of the Board of Supervisors.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. A137, Fees.
A. 
An applicant or permittee shall permit representatives of the Police Department, Health Department, Fire Department, Zoning Officer, Building Official and any other Township department or agencies to inspect the premises of a sexually oriented business for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this chapter and other Township ordinances at any time that the sexually oriented business is occupied or open for business.
B. 
A person who operates a sexually oriented business or his or her agent or employee shall violate this chapter if he or she refuses to permit such lawful inspection of the premises at any time it is occupied or open for business.
A. 
Expiration; renewal.
(1) 
Each permit shall expire one year from the date of issuance and may be renewed only by making application as provided in § 97-4. Application for renewal should be made at least 30 days before the expiration date, and when made less than 30 days before the expiration date, the pendency of the application will not prevent the expiration of the permit.
(2) 
When the Township Building Official denies renewal of a license, the applicant shall not be issued a permit for one year from the date of denial. If, subsequent to denial, the Building Official finds that the basis for denial of the renewal permit has been corrected or abated, the applicant may be granted a permit if at least 90 days have elapsed since the date of denial became final.
B. 
Suspension. The Building Official shall suspend a permit for a period not to exceed 30 days if he or she determines that a permittee or an employee of a permittee has:
(1) 
Violated or is not in compliance with any section of this chapter.
(2) 
Refused to allow an inspection of the sexually oriented business premises as authorized by this chapter.
(3) 
Knowingly permitted gambling by any person on the sexually oriented business premises.
(4) 
Allowed minors on the sexually oriented business premises.
C. 
Revocation.
(1) 
The Building Official shall revoke a permit if a cause of suspension set forth in Subsection B occurs and the permit has been suspended within the preceding 12 months.
(2) 
The Building Official shall revoke a permit if he or she determines that:
(a) 
A permittee gave false or misleading information in the material submitted to the Township during the application process.
(b) 
A permittee or an employee of a permittee has knowingly allowed possession, use or sale of controlled substances on the premises.
(c) 
A permittee or an employee of a permittee has knowingly allowed prostitution on the premises.
(d) 
A permittee or an employee of a permittee knowingly operated the sexually oriented business during a period of time when the permittee's permit was suspended.
(e) 
A permittee or an employee of a permittee has knowingly allowed any act of sexual intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, masturbation or other sexual conduct to occur in or on the permitted premises.
(f) 
A permittee is delinquent in payment to the Township or state for any taxes or fees.
(3) 
When the Building Official revokes a permit, the revocation shall continue for one year, and the permittee shall not be issued a sexually oriented permit for one year from the date revocation became effective. If, subsequent to revocation, the Building Official finds that the basis for the revocation has been corrected or abated, the applicant may be granted a permit if at least 90 days have elapsed since the date the revocation became effective.
(4) 
After denial of an application or denial of a renewal of an application or suspension or revocation of a permit, the applicant or licensee or permittee may seek prompt judicial review of such administrative action in any court of competent jurisdiction. The administrative action shall be promptly reviewed by the court.
D. 
Transfer of permit. A permittee shall not transfer his or her permit to another, nor shall a permittee operate a sexually oriented business under the authority of a permit at any place other than the address designated in the application.
A. 
A person violates this chapter if he or she operates or causes to be operated a sexually oriented business outside of a zoning district in which a sexually oriented business is permitted.
B. 
A person violates this chapter if he or she operates or causes to be operated a sexually oriented business within 500 feet of:
(1) 
A church.
(2) 
A public or private elementary or secondary school.
(3) 
A boundary of any residential district.
(4) 
A public park adjacent to any residential district.
(5) 
The property line of a lot used for residential purposes.
(6) 
A school bus stop.
(7) 
An establishment which is licenses to and does sell alcoholic beverages.
(8) 
Another sexually oriented business as defined in this chapter.
(9) 
A hospital, nursing home or group-care facility.
C. 
A person violates this chapter if he or she causes or permits the operation, establishment or maintenance of more than one sexually oriented business in the same building, structure or portion thereof or the increase of floor areas of any sexually oriented business in any building, structure or portion thereof containing another sexually oriented business.
D. 
For the purpose of this chapter, measurement shall be made in a straight line, without regard to intervening structures or objects, from the nearest portion of the building or structure used as a part of the premises where a sexually oriented business is conducted to the nearest property line of any of the premises set forth in Subsection B of this section.
E. 
Any sexually oriented business lawfully operating on the date of the enactment of this chapter that is in violation of Subsections A through D of this section shall be deemed a nonconforming use. The nonconforming use will be permitted to continue for a period not to exceed one year, unless sooner terminated for any reason or voluntarily discontinued for a period of 30 days or more. Such nonconforming uses shall not be increased, enlarged, extended or altered, except that the use may be changed to a conforming use. If two or more sexually oriented businesses are within 500 feet of one another and otherwise in a permissible location, the sexually oriented business which was first established and continually operating at a particular location is the conforming use and the later-established business is nonconforming.
F. 
A sexually oriented business lawfully operating as a conforming use is not rendered a nonconforming use by the location, subsequent to the grant or renewal of the sexually oriented business permit and/or license, of any of the uses set forth in Subsection B of this section of this chapter. This provision applies only to the renewal of a valid permit and does not apply when an application for a permit is submitted after a permit has expired or has been revoked.
A. 
Evidence that a sleeping room in a hotel, motel or similar commercial establishment has been rented or vacated two or more times in a period of time that is less than 10 hours creates a rebuttable presumption that the establishment is an adult motel, as that term is defined in this chapter.
B. 
A person violates this chapter if, as the person in control of a sleeping room in a hotel, motel or similar commercial establishment that does not have a sexually oriented permit, he or she rents or subrents a sleeping room to a person and, within 10 hours from the time the room is rented, he or she rents or subrents the same sleeping room again.
C. 
For purposes of Subsection B of this section, the terms "rent" or "subrent" mean the act of permitting a room to be occupied for any form of consideration.
A. 
A person who operates or causes to be operated a sexually oriented business, other than an adult motel, which exhibits on the premises, in a viewing room of less than 150 square feet of floor space, a film or videocassette or other video or other image production or reproduction which depicts specified sexual activities or specified anatomical areas shall comply with the following requirements:
(1) 
Upon application for a sexually oriented permit, the application shall be accompanied by a diagram of the premises showing a plan thereof specifying the location of one or more manager's stations and the location of all overhead lighting fixtures and designating any portion of the premises in which patrons will not be permitted. A manager's station may not exceed 32 square feet of floor area. The diagram shall also designate the place at which the permit will be conspicuously posted, if granted. A professionally prepared diagram in the nature of an engineer's or architect's blueprint shall not be required; however, each diagram should be oriented to the north or to some designated street or object and should be drawn to a designated scale or with marked dimensions sufficient to show the various internal dimensions of all areas of the interior of the premises to an accuracy of plus or minus six inches. The Building Official may waive the foregoing diagram for renewal applications if the applicant adopts a diagram that was previously submitted and certifies that the configuration of the premises has not been altered since it was prepared.
(2) 
The application shall be sworn to be true and correct by the applicant.
(3) 
No alteration in the configuration or location of a manager's station may be made without the prior approval of the Building Official or his or her designee.
(4) 
It is the duty of the owners and operator of the premises to ensure that at least one employee is on duty and situated in each manager's station at all times that any patron is present inside the premises.
(5) 
The interior of the premises shall be configured in such a manner that there is an unobstructed view from a manager's station of every area of the premises to which any patron is permitted access for any purpose, excluding rest rooms. Rest rooms may not contain video reproduction equipment. If the premises has two or more manager's stations designated, then the interior of the premises shall be configured in such a manner that there is an unobstructed view of each area of the premises to which any patron is permitted access for any purpose from at least one of the manager's stations. The view required in this subsection must be by direct line of sight from the manager's station.
(6) 
It shall be the duty of the owners and operator and it shall also be the duty of any agents and employees present on the premises to ensure that the view area specified in Subsection A(5) of this section remains unobstructed by any doors, walls, merchandise, display racks or other materials at all times and to ensure that no patron is permitted access to any area of the premises which has been designated as an area in which patrons will not be permitted in the application filed pursuant to Subsection A(1) of this section.
(7) 
No viewing room may be occupied by more than one person at any time.
(8) 
The premises shall be equipped with overhead lighting fixtures of sufficient intensity to illuminate every place to which patrons are permitted access at an illumination of not less than one footcandle as measured at the floor level.
(9) 
It shall be the duty of the owners and operator and it shall also be the duty of any agents and employees present in the premises to ensure that the illumination described above is maintained at all times that any patron is present in the premises.
B. 
A person having a duty under Subsection A(1) through (9) of this section violates this chapter if he or she knowingly fails to fulfill that duty.
A person appearing in a state of nudity is exempt from §§ 97-4 and 97-8D of this chapter if the modeling class is sponsored and operated:
A. 
By a proprietary school, licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; or a college, junior college or university supported entirely or partly by taxation;
B. 
By a private college or university which maintains and operates educational programs in which credits are transferable to a college, junior college or university supported entirely or partly by taxation; or
C. 
In a structure:
(1) 
Which has no sign visible from the exterior of the structure and no other advertising that indicates a nude person is available for viewing;
(2) 
Where, in order to participate in a class, a student must enroll at least three days in advance of the class; and
(3) 
Where no more than one nude model is on the premises at any one time.
[Amended 7-11-1996 by Ord. No. 1996-4]
Any person or persons who operate or cause to be operated a sexually oriented business without a valid permit or who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a civil fine not exceeding $600, plus any court costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Township as a result of the violation. The Township Manager, or any other Township representative authorized by the Board of Supervisors shall determine in each instance whether a violation of this chapter has occurred and, if so, the amount of the civil fine to be imposed upon the violator. Notice of the civil fine shall be served upon the violator by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by personal delivery by a Township representative. Should the violator not pay the civil fine within 20 days of the date of service, the Township Manager or other duly designated Township representative shall file a civil enforcement proceeding with the District Justice having jurisdiction to recover the civil fine, court costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred by the Township as a result of the violation. No judgment shall be imposed until the date of the determination of a violation by the District Justice. If the violator neither pays nor timely appeals the judgment, the Township may enforce the judgment pursuant to the applicable Rules of Civil Procedure. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. In addition, any such person or persons who operates or causes to be operated a sexually oriented business without a valid permit or in violation of this chapter is subject to an action in equity to restrain the violation or violations.