The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

Tod Hunter
FLORIDA

'Non-Conforming' Strip Club Might Not Reopen

MARATHON, Fla. — An Atlanta-based businessman interested in reopening the former Mermaid Club strip bar in Marathon is likely to encounter problems with the city's new code, planning director George Garrett said.

A provision in the city's land development regulations confines adult entertainment to industrially zoned areas. The former Mermaid Club was in Old Town, and the only industrial area in the city is on the other end of town.

"The reality is they are a non-conforming use, like anything else. If you [had] a commercial building in a residential area and you cease to exist for 18 months, you have to come back conforming," Garrett said.

Garrett said the building owner does have demolition permits — the former building was demolished in the past month — but no approval from the city to do anything else with the property.

The city in 2006 invoked a zoning-in-progress ordinance to stop a Miami businessman from attempting to reopen the Mermaid Club. At the time, the city was drafting now-complete land development regulations that include restrictions on adult entertainment.

Joe Sora and Abe Citron opened the Mermaid Club in 1997, eventually selling the club and adjacent Marathon Sports Bar to Kern. In 2001, Kern and past owners went through a legal spat over the rights to a liquor license, and the business closed shortly after.

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GEORGIA

Acreage Limits Lifted on Adult Businesses

WALTON COUNTY, Ga. — To bring its adult entertainment ordinance more in line with recent case law, the Board of Commissioners approved an update to the guiding doctrine that removes any minimum amount of acreage required for such businesses.

“Our old ordinance had a stipulation that any establishment must be on three acres, which we believed was a constitutional conflict which in turn prompted the department to revise the ordinance,” said Charna Parker, assistant director for the county’s Planning and Development Department.

Outside of the removal of minimum acreage requirements, the ordinance is mostly unchanged. Adult entertainment establishments also are required to be at least 1,000 feet from any parcel of land zoned for agricultural or residential use; at least 1,000 feet from any parcel of land with a church, kindergarten, school, library, public park, playground, day care facility, prison or any building owned by the government; must be 1,000 feet from any parcel of land where there is an establishment selling alcohol and cannot be located within 1,000 feet of another adult entertainment establishment.

The ordinance also outlines the licensing process for adult businesses.

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KENTUCKY

Court Upholds City Ordinance, Orders Adult Business Closed

RICHMOND, Ky. — A Richmond store that allegedly sells "adult" and "sexually explicit" merchandise was ordered closed Oct. 29 by Madison Circuit Judge Gary D. Payne.

Payne upheld the city’s zoning ordinance that allows adult-oriented businesses only in areas zoned I-2 (Industrial Park). An I-2 zone is located near the store’s present location.

To comply with the order, the store must either close or relocate to one of the city’s industrial parks, city manager David Evans said.

"The issue all along has been zoning, not whether an adult business can operate in the city," Evans said. "That section of North Keeneland Drive is zoned B-3 (Highway Business), and the court agrees that he can’t operate an adult business in that zone."

The city had been had been seeking to close the store since shortly after it opened in June 2002, when Evans said he received numerous citizen complaints.

Executing an administrative search warrant in January 2003, city codes enforcement officers photographed the store’s interior. They determined that 122 linear feet of the store’s display space was devoted to "sex items," while 24 feet of linear space displayed "non-sex" items, according to the court order.

The evidence also revealed that the store had installed 14 "peep-show" booths that allowed customers to view videos of an adult nature.

In June 2004, a city inspector estimated that "90 percent of the display area was devoted to adult inventory."

Non-adult items in the store such as old books, newspapers, magazines, jewelry, etc., are merely a facade to dilute the adult inventory and shield what is otherwise an adult establishment," Payne ruled.

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LOUISIANA

City Council Passes Zoning Laws

BASTROP, La. — The Board of Alderpersons of the city of Bastrop passed two ordinances at the regular November meeting that will regulate and zone any adult business that may operate in the city limits.

The ordinances came under discussion after The Red Door, a local adult novelty chain, opened a Bastrop location in September. Both ordinances are based on a template used statewide for such businesses.

One ordinance will regulate and license both the businesses and the employees of any adult business. The licensing requirement will affect the store as soon as the city begins a new licensing period.

The zoning distance of the other ordinance was discussed at length. According to City Attorney Doug Lawrence, the ordinance assumes a city has zoning in place. Bastrop does not, so until the zoning committee meets, the ordinance will be considered temporary.

In upcoming meetings, the city may discuss the possibility of Sunday alcohol sales.

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