BRITT — While rumors of Dale Peterson, the owner of The Loft Theater for the Performing Arts in Corwith, buying property in Britt swirled around the town Friday night, the Britt City Council discussed ordinances related to Peterson’s Corwith business and similar activity.
Peterson opened the business which features nude female performers several weeks ago. It has stirred discussion and reaction inside and outside of Corwith.
Peterson said Friday he had not bought property in Britt.
The Hancock County Recorder’s Office said no property in Britt listed Dale Peterson as the owner.
Yet, “we’ve been snooping around,” Peterson said of interest in Britt. “Nothing’s been done.”
Peterson said if he did pursue property in Britt he had not yet determined what he would use it for.
Council members said Friday night they didn’t want a business like Peterson’s Corwith establishment in Britt.
“The only way to do anything is with a zoning ordinance,” Britt City Attorney Earl Hill said during the meeting.
An Iowa Supreme Court ruling from 2012 involving nude dancers at a theater in Hamburg said cities are allowed to address such businesses with zoning ordinances, Hill said.
A bill is moving forward in the state Legislature to address the issue of nude performers in a performing arts theater as it relates to the Hamburg case, Hill said.
Hill worked with a lawyer from a neighboring community on a proposed zoning ordinance that would cover the allowance of a business such as The Loft.
Any ordinance must stand a test in court, Hill said. The proposed zoning ordinance would allow businesses to locate in the least offensive place possible, such as an area zoned for industry or general commercial property.
“I chose general commercial property,” Hill said.
The council will refer Hill’s proposed zoning ordinance to the city’s planning and zoning committee.
Hill said it’s possible for the council to have the new ordinance effective in a few weeks, but it must meet all state laws of publication and public hearing.
Rae Yost is editor of the Forest City Summit and Britt News Tribune, also Lee Enterprises newsapers.