Suburban sprawl could see sex shops expand from Sin City

People in Las Vegas’ neighboring city of Henderson are worried a new zoning rule might lead to some of Sin City’s sexually-oriented businesses spilling over into their quiet, suburban town.

A new ordinance passed by Henderson's city council significantly expands the areain which an adult bookstore or novelty shop can now open.

The ordinance requires the shops to stay in industrial areas and increases the distance that these shops must be from schools, churches and homes from 1,000 to 1,500 feet with no exceptions. Strip clubs are not allowed; only novelty shops and books stores.

Still, some neighbors are upset with the change.

“Keep the sin in sin city,” Steve Stevenson told the city council at a meeting just before the new ordinance was approved.

Sherri Miller, who has lived in Henderson for nearly a decade, fought tears as she addressed the council to speak out against the adult businesses.

“They can go to the strip if they want to see that kind of thing but my neighborhood is family,” Miller told

Henderson’s decision to increase the land area that allows sexually-oriented businesses comes in the midst of a battle between the city and a business owner who tried to open an adult novelty store but was not allowed to do so.

Earlier this year, Edward Wheeler tried to finalize the opening of the third location of his adult bookstore, The Love Shop, in Henderson.

Wheeler told he felt he was unfairly denied a license to operate in Henderson after spending $20,000 in planning and attorney fees to get the businesses started.

“We were just trying to do business, bring 20 to 30 jobs,” Wheeler said. “I would have never spent the money had they been straight from the beginning.”

Wheeler’s shop sells a variety of items including lingerie, lotions, candles and sexual items. Wheeler says his shop is for “romantic couples,” but was unfairly targeted by Henderson for being too racy.

“We came in as a boutique that has a certain portion that might be classified as adult,” Wheeler said. “We’re a romantic-based industry.”

However, Henderson spokesman Bud Cranor told that Wheeler’s store wasn’t allow to open because a large portion of The Love Shop’s sales come from graphic adult items.

The city of Henderson only allows novelty shops to operate as long as their sales of graphic adult items are less than 10 percent -- meaning the majority of sales must come from items like lingerie, candles and lotions.

Wheeler argued his sales of graphic items are about 25 percent. He said Henderson previously allowed stores to open with figures that high, but changed its policy because of his application.

He added he has not abandoned his plans for a shop in Henderson.

As Henderson and Wheeler went back and forth, the city council realized it had not addressed the rules regarding its sexually-oriented zoning in nearly 20 years. It expanded the area now because it says the city has nearly tripled in population and size since the 1990s and can accommodate more of these businesses in industrial areas.

“These types of businesses are protected under the law, so we can’t prohibit them, but we can govern where they go,” Cranor said.

Paul Seidler, who owns a wheel-repair business inside the newly zoned industrial area, said he is not happy with the city’s decision.

“I certainly appreciate the need for Henderson to evolve its economy and build its economy and I understand this is an industry that’s common in Nevada,” Seidler said. “But, nevertheless I think this is a high-end area and I think I’d rather it stay that way.”

Audrey Becerra, who works at a beauty supply shop, said she understands how opponents of the ordinance feel but agrees with the city’s decision.

“I can see where they’re coming from but I’m very open,” Becerra said. “It doesn’t bother me. We’re in America.”