Proposal banning swinger clubs in Fort Wayne dies

Fort Wayne City Council failed to pass an ordinance banning live sex act businesses from operating in the city during its four hour meeting Tuesday.

Posted: Aug 13, 2019 11:15 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2019 8:32 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Fort Wayne's only swingers club is allowed to stay open.

Fort Wayne City Council failed to pass an ordinance banning live sex act businesses from operating in the city during its four hour meeting Tuesday.

The ordinance initially passed out of a committee with no recommendation with a 3-3-1 vote. That vote stayed the same during the regular session.

Councilmen Tom Freistroffer, R - At-Large; Russ Jehl, R - 2nd District and Geoff Paddock, D - 5th District voted in favor of the swingers club ban. Meanwhile councilmen Michael Barranda, R - At-Large; John Crawford, R - At-Large and Glynn Hines, D - 6th District voted against it.

Councilman Paul Ensley, R- 1st District, abstained from voting. Councilmen Tom Didier, R - 3rd District, and Jason Arp, R - 4th District were absent Tuesday.

Crawford said the issue came down to legislating morality, but city council can't decide to pick one group's morals over another.

The Champaign Club said it has 15,281 individual members and about 19% of them live in Fort Wayne.

The City of Fort Wayne's law department, which wrote the ordinance, said having swingers clubs in the city posed as a public health and safety hazard.

Captain Kevin Hunter, head of the Vice and Narcotics Unit at the Fort Wayne Police Department, said police haven't investigated any criminal activity at the club in the last five years.

The Allen County Health Department doesn't track where sexually transmitted diseases originiate from.

It does track STD rates based on zip codes, and according to the most recent data the Champaign Club has some of the lowest STD rates in Allen County.

One member who asked us to not identify him said the Champaign Club offers a safe place to go Friday and Saturday nights.

"It's the safest place to be at in Fort Wayne. If you were never even in the lifestyle, if I wasn't in the lifestyle, I would go there because it is the safest place in fort wayne to dance and have a good time," said the Champaign Club member.

There is a zoning proposal making its way through the Fort Wayne Planning Commission, which might affect the club when it reaches city council.

Meanwhile, another ordinance putting more restrictions on strip clubs such as licensing and spot checks from the Fort Wayne Police Department was approved.

Allen County Commissioners approved similar ordinances for areas outside Fort Wayne, New Haven and Leo-Cedarville.

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