OPINION BY SENIOR JUDGE OLER, JR..
Leroy London (London) appeals from the order entered August 12, 2016 (Order), by the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County (trial court), which denied London's statutory appeal from the decision of the City of Philadelphia's (City) Zoning Board of Adjustment (Board), denying London a use variance. The Order was issued after this Court remanded the matter to the trial court to address London's challenge to the constitutionality of Section 14-601(7)(a)(.1) of the City's Zoning Code (Code), which defines "adult cabaret." We affirm.
On August 21, 2013, London applied to the City's Department of Licenses & Inspections (L&I) for a zoning/use registration permit to operate an adult cabaret within an existing restaurant/bar (Property). The Property is located in a Neighborhood Commercial Mixed-Use-2 (CMX-2) Zoning District. On September 18, 2013, L&I issued a Notice of Refusal because an adult cabaret is not permitted in the CMX-2 Zoning District, and because the proposed use, which is a regulated use, is not permitted within 500 feet of residential homes or a protected use (religious assembly, school).
London filed an appeal with the Board, seeking a variance. After a hearing, the Board affirmed L&I's decision and denied London's request for a variance. The Board refused to address London's constitutional challenges to Section 14-601(7)(a)(.1) of the Code, stating the Board was without jurisdiction to do so. London appealed to the trial court, which affirmed the denial of the variance but declined to address the constitutional issues for procedural reasons. London then appealed to this Court, which affirmed the trial court's order in part regarding the denial of the variance, but remanded the matter to the trial court for consideration of the constitutional issues. On remand, the trial court rejected London's constitutional challenges.
London now appeals to this Court.
Section 14-601(7)(a)(.1) of the Code defines an "adult cabaret" as follows:
Under the Code, an "adult cabaret" is an "adult-oriented service" that falls within the "Commercial Services Use Category." Code § 14-601(7)(a)(.1). Adult-oriented services, such as an adult cabaret, are permitted by right in I-3 industrial districts and by special exception in I-2 (Medium Industrial) and ICMX (Industrial Commercial Mixed-Use) districts. Code § 14-602(5), Table 14-602-3. Additionally, adult-oriented services are among regulated uses. Code § 14-603(13)(a)(.2). These regulated uses are not permitted within zoning districts where such use is not expressly allowed, within 1,000 feet of any other existing regulated use or any SPENT (Entertainment, Special Purpose) zoning district, within 500 feet of any residential district or SP-INS (Institutional, Special Purpose) district, or within 500 feet of the nearest lot line containing any protected use. Code § 14-603(13)(b)(.1). Protected uses include schools, churches and public playgrounds. Code § 14-203(249).
Nude dancing is a form of expressive conduct entitled to constitutional protection. Pap's A.M. v. City of Erie, 571 Pa. 375, 812 A.2d 591 (2002). However, the United States Supreme Court has upheld zoning with respect to sexually oriented businesses where the zoning ordinance did not ban adult theaters altogether but merely regulated their location. Renton v. Playtime Theaters, Inc., 475 U.S. 41, 106 S.Ct. 925, 89 L.Ed.2d 29 (1986). The Supreme Court ruled that where an ordinance is a time, place and manner restriction designed to address the problematic secondary effects associated with sexually oriented businesses, the regulation is permissible. Id.
London does not challenge the City's authority to zone sexually oriented businesses and acknowledges that nude dancing "falls only within the outer ambit of the First Amendment's protections." (London's brief at 9.) However, London argues that Section 14-601(7)(a)(.1) is unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, because it is both overbroad and vague.
"[A]ny party challenging the constitutionality of a statute must meet a heavy burden, for we presume legislation
Under the overbreadth doctrine, "a statute is facially invalid if it prohibits a substantial amount of protected speech." United States v. Williams, 553 U.S. 285, 292, 128 S.Ct. 1830, 170 L.Ed.2d 650 (2008). The "overbreadth [must] be substantial, not only in an absolute sense, but also relative to the statute's plainly legitimate sweep." Id. (emphasis in original). "Invalidation for overbreadth is strong medicine that is not to be casually employed." Id. at 293, 128 S.Ct. 1830 (quotation marks and citation omitted). "A narrowing construction can save an otherwise unconstitutional statute by eliminating the statute's substantial overbreadth." Conchatta Inc. v. Miller, 458 F.3d 258, 263 (3d Cir. 2006). "If a statute is `readily susceptible' to a limiting interpretation that would make it constitutional, the statute must be upheld...." Id. at 263 (quoting Virginia v. American Booksellers Association, Inc., 484 U.S. 383, 397, 108 S.Ct. 636, 98 L.Ed.2d 782 (1988)).
London argues that the ordinance is overbroad because it reaches beyond its legitimate sweep in that it does not apply solely to nude dancing, but also to a variety of performances and actions, such as plays and musicals, that are entitled to full constitutional protection. Extracting several terms and phrases from the context of the ordinance, London argues that the City cannot show that any negative secondary effects can be tied to "male or female impersonators or similar entertainers" who act, dance, or perform in an "exciting" or "stimulating" manner in order to justify the restrictions under the ordinance. London also argues that the restriction on "similar entertainers exhibiting specified anatomical areas or performing specified sexual activities" is overbroad, as it places restrictions on belly dancing or flamenco dancing or drag queen shows.
We will first focus on the phrase "male or female impersonators or similar entertainers." When interpreting an ordinance, undefined words and phrases are to be construed according to their common and approved usage. Bradley v. South Londonderry Township, 64 Pa.Cmwlth. 395, 440 A.2d 665 (1982); see Section 1903(a) of the Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. § 1903(a); cf. Kohl v.
Likewise, the phrase "similar entertainers" is limited by its context, and these same preceding words. "Similar entertainers" is a general phrase preceded by a list of a class of persons. "General words shall be construed to take their meanings and be restricted by preceding particular words." See Section 1903(b) of the Statutory Construction Act of 1972, 1 Pa. C.S. § 1903(b).
More importantly, however, the scope of these terms or phrases is limited by the activities that the "male or female impersonators or similar entertainers" must be performing in order for the establishment to be considered an "adult cabaret." In other words, one cannot stop reading after the phrase "male or female impersonators or similar entertainers." Specifically, the regulation continues on to provide that the "male or female impersonators or similar entertainers" must be: (1) "exhibiting specified anatomical areas"; or (2) "performing specified sexual activities"; or (3) "dancing, performing or acting in a lewd, sexually erotic, exciting, or stimulating manner for patrons or viewers." Code § 14-601(7)(a)(.1).
The Code defines "specified anatomical areas" as follows:
Code § 14-203(305).
The Code defines "specified sexual activities" as follows:
With respect to "male or female impersonators or similar entertainers" who "danc[e], perform or act in a lewd, sexually erotic, exciting, or stimulating manner for patrons or viewers," London focuses on the words "exciting" and "stimulating." Reading these words in context and as restricted by the preceding terms, a reasonable person would conclude that the ordinance is confined to sexually oriented entertainment.
Lastly, the ordinance provides that the establishment must "feature" this type of entertainment. A "feature" is "a prominent part or characteristic."
When Section 14-601(7)(a)(.1) is read in its entirety, and the challenged words and phrases ("male or female impersonators or similar entertainers," who act, dance, or perform in an "exciting" or "stimulating" manner) are read in context, it is reasonable to interpret an "adult cabaret" as being limited to sexually oriented entertainment. As such, the Code's definition of "adult cabaret" does not adversely affect a "substantial" amount of protected speech relative to its "plainly legitimate sweep" of imposing a "time, manner, place" regulation on sexually oriented businesses within the City. See Renton; Stock. Therefore, it is not overbroad.
"A law is void on its face if it is so vague that persons of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application." Fabio v. Civil Service Commission of City of Philadelphia, 489 Pa. 309, 414 A.2d 82, 84 (1980) (quotation marks and citation omitted). "The void for vagueness doctrine incorporates the due process notions of fair notice or warning." Id. at 85; see Williams (stating the vagueness doctrine is an outgrowth of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment). "But perfect clarity and precise guidance have never been required even of regulations that restrict expressive activity." Williams, 553 U.S. at 304, 128 S.Ct. 1830 (quotation marks and citation omitted). Additionally, "[a]lthough at first blush a law may appear vague on its face and those subject to it without fair notice, ... it may withstand a constitutional challenge if it has been narrowed by judicial interpretation, custom and usage." Fabio, 414 A.2d at 85.
For the same reasons set forth above, when the challenged phrases are read in context with the entire definition, Section 14-601(7)(a)(.1) is not vague.
Accordingly, for the foregoing reasons, we affirm the trial court's order.
AND NOW, this 15
The Board is not participating in this appeal.