The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

Tod Hunter

County Tightens Adult Business Regs

DAVIESS COUNTY, Ky. — The Owensboro Board of Commissioners has unanimously passed a new resolution on adult-oriented businesses, leaving it up to the Daviess County Fiscal Court to tighten restrictions on these businesses throughout the county.

"It would take just one stroke of the pen by the county over there to adopt that ordinance and put it in county-wide," City Attorney David Fowler said. "We would have the most stringent regulations the 1st amendment of the Constitution will permit us to do."

The city points to "secondary effects," like crime and prostitution as their justification for these new regulations.

"You can regulate those secondary effects by imposing stringent regulations and that's what this new ordinance is intended to do," Fowler said.\

By imposing the new measure countywide, the city hopes to close any loopholes allowing businesses to set up on the city and county border.

"This should be county wide," Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson said. "There are so many pockets inside the city limits that basically you could have a building that's inside the city limits that's actually in the county."

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City Council: Red Door Can't Move

LATHROP, La. — A motion to move the location of adult store The Red Door out of District B was declined by a three to two vote at the City Council meeting Thursday night. The motion was made by Betty Alford-Olive, District B, and seconded by Boo Robinson, District A. During the pre-vote discussion, Mayor Clarence Hawkins pointed out to the board that if the store were to be moved, it must be moved elsewhere in the city. No other alderperson was willing to accept the store in his or her district.

The motion was made after La Koshia Roberts, who acted as legal counsel for the board in the absence of Doug Lawrence, advised the board that its actions must stick to the letter of the law.

“Your ordinances cannot be based primarily on your feelings,” Roberts said. “You would not have a legal leg to stand on if you decided to arbitrarily deny or revoke an occupational license.”

Roberts said any attempt to place stress on The Red Door that would not be placed on another business in the city could be considered arbitrary.

“With that recommendation, you are going to be placing an undue burden on the business owner,” Roberts said. “You have to treat the businesses the same.”

Olive said she had to uphold the standard of the community, citing numerous calls from constituents, despite repeated statements by Roberts saying all board decisions must be based on law and not moral decisions.

“I think it’s an abomination to have it in our community in the first place,” Robinson said.

A Red Door employee addressed the meeting, saying she is a mother who wants ordinances to protect children in place. She also said, however, that people are not more outspoken for the store’s existence because of the unfair disdain shown by some members of the community.

“Everybody is looking down on other people for going in the store,” the employee said. “It’s not a town’s place to judge others for what they do in their private time.”

Jeff Ingram of the Morehouse Baptist Association both spoke to the board. Ingram said a recent meeting of the Association voted that The Red Door should not be permitted to operate in Bastrop because it violates Louisiana obscenity laws.

The city introduced two ordinances at Thursday’s meeting. If passed at the November meeting, the first would regulate sex-oriented businesses, and the second would zone sex-oriented businesses.

By law, the city must hold a public hearing before an ordinance that levies fines can be passed at the next meeting. The public hearing was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, October 20 in the City Courtroom.

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Restrictive Strip Club Laws Pass

MENDON, Mass. — Town meeting voters last night unanimously approved measures that will make it difficult — but not impossible — for a strip club to open in town. A strip club or other adult entertainment venue will be prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages, cannot be larger than 2,000 square feet in size and no more than 14 feet high, and cannot open before 4:30 p.m. on school days.

Several other restrictions — one that would have banned tipping, and another requiring that a criminal background check on every club employee be placed on file with selectmen — were dropped on the advice of the town’s lawyer. The provisions were improperly included in the proposed zoning bylaw, Town Counsel Brandon Moss said.

A total of 197 voters attended the special town meeting, according to the town clerk, significantly more than the 50 or so who usually attend.

The restrictions came in reaction to two separate strip club proposals that were eventually rejected by city officials. The articles were brought by citizen petition. A group of residents calling themselves Speak Out Mendon drafted the articles and gathered the signatures of 200 registered voters who are residents. The articles were drawn up without the help of town officials, who had received a strip club application and could not appear biased against it.

One of the founders of Speak Out Mendon told town meeting members that the restrictions were not devised to prevent adult entertainment from coming to town. Instead, the group’s idea was to regulate the clubs to limit the “negative secondary effects” of a club’s existence in a small town like Mendon.

No one spoke in opposition to the proposals. The hour-plus discussion focused exclusively on how to tighten and tweak the proposals to make them more restrictive.

Another member of Speak Out Mendon said the group would bring the tipping ban and criminal background check restrictions back to town meeting at a later date.

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Moratorium on Adult Entertainment Venues Extended

BREEZY POINT, Minn. — The Breezy Point City Council voted Monday to extend for 18 months a moratorium that will keep adult entertainment venues out of the city, but banning adult entertainment from any Minnesota city has been ruled unconstitutional and cities must allow for them, and can only restrict them to certain locations via zoning laws.

"We have to find somewhere where we can allow it," said Associate City Planner Jim Perry. "It's a free speech issue and there are some other problems — we can only keep them out for so long."

City Attorney Andy MacArthur said that, theoretically, cities must make five to 10 percent of their business district available to adult entertainment, but they can be zoned to keep them away from churches, schools and other locations.

About a half-dozen Breezy Point citizens approached the council and spoke in favor of the moratorium, with some asking for a permanent ban.

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Store Told Not to Sell Adult Material, Does Anyway

STAFFORD, N.J. — The Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday night denied a request from the owners of a local magazine store to continue to sell adult books and videos. Despite the board's ruling, however, the store continued to sell adult books and videos on Thursday.

The board voted 6-1 to deny the request of The News Stand at the hearing. At issue was whether the store should be allowed to continue to sell adult materials despite changes made to an ordinance regarding adult materials several years ago.

Before March 2004, Stafford's ordinance stated that any store that sold adult materials as its principal income would be considered an adult book store.

Over the summer, The News Stand and another store, Bay Avenue Market, were both issued summonses for selling adult materials without the proper certification. Last week, Bay Avenue Market appeared before the board and was certified to sell adult material.

The News Stand's attorney said Wednesday night that his clients had not decided whether to appeal their denial.

"I will have to talk to my clients about it," Abramson said, "but in my professional opinion there is a great case for an appeal here. They have not violated any zoning laws because it is not principal income."

Despite the board's rejection of The News Stand's application, the Township Council is planning on filing an appeal of the board's decision to allow Bay Avenue Markets to continue to sell adult material.

"I am pleased the board denied the application last night," said Township Administrator Paul J. Shives. "The governing body authorized the appeal and, unless the Board indicated last night that they were reversing their decision, I believe the mayor and council will want to move ahead with the appeal.

"It's still a very bad decision based on several different criteria," Shives added.

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