A nearly unanimous Ashland City Council took a first step on Tuesday night to create a citywide ban on public nudity.
The move goes beyond proposals to create 200 foot or 1,000 foot buffer zones around schools, licensed child care centers and the Ashland Family YMCA where nudity would not be allowed.
Councilors Russ Silbiger, David Chapman, Kate Jackson, Carol Voisin and Greg Lemhouse voted to approve the first reading of an ordinance to make it unlawful for a person to intentionally expose his or her genitals in view of a public space.
The council majority directed city staff to look into the possibility of granting parade permits to people who want to hold protests in the buff. That option will come back to the council at a future meeting when councilors will consider approving the second reading of the ordinance, the final council action before a new law goes into effect.
Ashland already has a law banning the display of genitals downtown and in parks.
In September, a council majority voted not to expand that law to ban nudity around schools. But after a naked man from Minnesota appeared near three Ashland schools in October, Mayor John Stromberg decided to put the nudity issue back before the council.
Stromberg did not cast a vote on Tuesday because Ashland’s mayor votes only to break ties.
Councilor Eric Navickas tried unsuccessfully to run the clock out and prevent a council vote with a speech about how society views the naked body. He warned that nude protesters will seek parade permits and go into school zones.