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Lion's Den calls Indy's sign ordinance unconstitutional, seeks compensation for lost revenue

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Posted at 3:46 PM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 10:24:40-05

INDIANAPOLIS — An adult entertainment store that recently opened on the south side of Indianapolis says the city's sign ordinance is unconstitutional, a federal lawsuit claims.

Lion's Den, located at 4250 East Southport Road, filed a lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis on Wednesday, claiming an ordinance in the C-4 zoning district violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The city categorizes Lion's Den as an "adult entertainment business," which falls under extensive sign regulations in Indianapolis' Code of Ordinances.

READ: Lion's Den responds to criticism of new store while celebrating its 50th anniversary

For instance, adult entertainment businesses are not permitted to have certain images or symbols displayed. They're restricted to exactly how many signs they can have, how big the sign can be, and the kind of lighting surrounding the sign can also be controlled.

Lion's Den sought to have a monument sign and a wall sign in early 2021 when preparing to take over the building on Southport Road, across the way from a Sky Zone and Cracker Barrel. However, according to the lawsuit, the Department of Metropolitan Development denied the application because an adult entertainment establishment can not have a monument or freestanding sign under the current ordinance.

The city told Lion's Den it would only permit a wall sign with "content-based restrictions" that could not exceed more than 5% of the surface area on the front of the building.

The lawsuit states the initial proposal for a wall design — which would've stated "Lion's Den ADULT SUPERSTORE Pleasure. Passion. Romance." — was denied by the Board of Zoning Appeals. Only the business' title, "Lion's Den," was eventually permitted.

MORE: Driver caught on video crashing vehicle into Lion's Den store in Indianapolis

Lion's Den claims it and its patrons' rights have been threatened by Indianapolis' sign restrictions for adult entertainment businesses.

The lawsuit seeks permits from the city for Lion's Den to lawfully put up a monument, pole, pylon, and other kinds of wall signs. It also wants the full initial sign design approved.

Additionally, Lion's Den is seeking compensatory damages for the lost revenue it has incurred due to the lack of customers it has had at the Southport Road store. According to obtained documents, the exact amount the company seeks from the city will be determined in trial.

Since Lion's Den opened its second store in Indianapolis in September, the business has received pushback from some community members.

WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at shakkira.harris@wrtv.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.

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