Over the course of this semester we have talked about many different non-profit and NIMBY organizations. My interest for my second reaction paper initiated after reading Hickey’s “The Geography of Pornography”. Before reading this article I never considered the significant impact that these frisky types of businesses have on local residents. When I think about what affects residents of an area I don’t necessarily think storefronts, I think about the tearing down of homes or empty lots within the neighborhood. Due to the fact that I never put any thought into those types of businesses, primarily because we don’t see any in this area, I decided to research other communities affected by frisky businesses in their neighborhoods.
In the article written by Hickey, residents of Minneapolis formed neighborhood organizations in effort for the removal of an adult business within a residential community. The article focused primarily on the feminist movement and on the fact that they thought pornography violated women’s rights. During my research I came across many states and communities whom also crossed paths with similar situations of unwanted businesses. Many of these states and communities had initiated NIMBY movements in order to accomplish the removal of unwanted businesses within residential communities. While doing this research one particular event stuck out to me, the NIMS (Not In My State) movement initiated by the state of New Jersey.
NIMBY is a recognized movement; prior to this I would have never even considered a NIMS movement due to the grand scale of it. This movement initiated in Sayreville, New Jersey after the opening of a nude juice bar known as “35 Club”. This nude bar was actually a gentleman’s club, which sold only non-alcoholic beverages so that their employees could work fully nude. The opening of this bar created an abundance of uneasiness and anger among residents of the community. The residents of this community fought for the 35 Club to be shut down by using the argument that its customers could take the short trip to Staten Island and enjoy the strip joints already established there. Another argument proposed by the residents was that this club went against a state law that stated that sexually oriented businesses must not be within 1,000 feet of a residential area or park.
This movement reminded me of Hickey’s article due to the fact that residents were arguing that the adult business was too close to residential areas and at a place where families had to walk by and women would get harassed. Like Hickeys article, change eventually did come but it did not happen overnight. It took the residents of Sayreville, New Jersey approximately 5 years to officially remove the 35 Club. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the availability of strip clubs in neighboring states was enough to keep these businesses out of local communities. “Today, this court becomes the first in the nation to suggest that a state can geographically restrict constitutionally permissive expression within its borders by offering a neighboring state as an alternative forum,” (Epstein 2012). The Mayor of Sayreville at the time, Mayor Kennedy O’Brian, was pleased with the final ruling of the Supreme Court. Mayor O’Brian stated that Sayreville is a community of families and agreed that these types of businesses should be kept out.
One thing I found interesting about the case in New Jersey was that adult bookstores were also included in the ruling. I found the similarities between Minneapolis and New Jersey to be very astounding seeing how they both had different outcomes. It amazed me that the coming together of the community of Sayreville had such a huge impact on the entire state. Unlike many cases we’ve looked at over the course of the semester, the case of New Jersey is one in which the residents voices were finally heard.