The XBIZ Weekly Retail Round-Up

Tod Hunter

Planning Commission Blocks Strip Club Again

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A proposal to open a strip club in northwest Grand Junction failed for a second time before the city Planning Commission Tuesday, prompting applause from opponents and a vow from the would-be proprietor to appeal.

Commissioners deadlocked 3-3 on a conditional-use permit that would allow the club to serve alcohol. Commissioners Patrick Carlow, Roland Cole and Ebe Eslami voted in favor of the permit, while commissioners Mark Abbott, Lynn Pavelka-Zarkesh and Reginald Wall voted against it. Commissioner Bill Putnam, who voted to approve the permit in August, was absent.

In denying a permit for the club in August, some planning commissioners claimed it was incompatible with the neighborhood but defined the “neighborhood” as the entire city. That brought an appeal from representatives for the club’s owner and an instruction from the City Council to commissioners to narrow their definition.

Commissioners followed the council’s direction — and still rejected the conditional-use permit. Pavelka-Zarkesh and Wall argued the introduction of alcohol to the area could act as a deterrent for businesses that could locate there in the future. The property is surrounded on three sides by industrial zoning, with commercial zoning to the south. The land to the north and west is vacant.

Wall also said he was concerned about the effect a bar could have on a home immediately east of the site, even though the bar would be in an area that conforms to the city’s standards for adult entertainment businesses.

City officials have tried to make it clear that the issue surrounding the strip club wasn’t the adult entertainment aspect of it, but rather the service of alcohol. Adult entertainment businesses are allowed under city codes, as long as they meet a strict set of criteria.

For more information, click here.


Bar Files Federal Suit for Topless Dancing

DESTIN, Fla. — A Destin business has sued the city, claiming its ordinances prohibiting a topless bar on its site are unconstitutional.

The Oasis of Destin, along with its partner Trident Operations, filed a lawsuit Monday that claims the city's ordinances governing adult entertainment establishments violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.

"We approached (the city), made a case for why the ordinances are not valid and then applied for a business license and were then promptly turned down," Attorney Cary Wiggins said. "There's really nothing left to do. If the ordinances aren't valid, there's really no sense in working with them."

Destin attorney Jerry Miller did not return messages seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Destin earlier this month received an application to turn The Oasis into a topless bar, but city officials said that the zoning in that spot doesn't allow adult entertainment. The section in Destin's ordinances governing adult entertainment is 20 years old and prohibits nudity in bars, nightclubs and any business "which sells alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises." The Destin City Council unanimously decided last week to review its rules for "adult entertainment."

The ban includes showing the female breast "below the top of the areola" and any exposure of genitals or buttocks.

The lawsuit seeks to have the city's ordinances related to adult entertainment deemed unconstitutional and allow them to offer "nude dance entertainment." The Oasis also seeks to have the city pay their legal fees and award the business damages for not allowing them to offer nude dancing now.

For more information, click here.


City Mulls Adult Entertainment Ordinance

CALHOUN, Ga. — City officials have said that a proposed adult entertainment ordinance would regulate such businesses inside the city limits but could not totally prohibit them.

The proposed ordinance is modeled after similar ordinances in other cities, said William Bailey, city attorney.

“Recent court cases have said that municipalities may regulate these businesses and their affects, but they cannot regulate their content,” Bailey said.

He added that the City Council could consider the impact such businesses might have on the community in drafting an ordinance.

During a review of the draft ordinance at the Calhoun City Council at Monday’s council meeting, police Chief Garry Moss said cities that have adult entertainment businesses often see increases in crime, especially fights, drug sales and prostitution. Those conditions often lead to vacant properties surrounding the adult businesses, Moss said.

According to the language of the new ordinance, any adult entertainment business would have to be at least 1,000 feet from any residence, school, church or daycare center and at least 500 feet from any establishment at which alcohol is served. Alcohol could not be served on the premises of any adult entertainment business. The ordinance also proposes a $750 license fee, but Hammond said he felt the fee should be doubled.

A public hearing on the Adult Entertainment Ordinance will be held during the Dec. 8 City Council meeting, which is open to the public.

For more information, click here.


Out-of-Court Settlement Closes Adult Bookstore

MARSHALL, Ill. — It took more than half a million dollars and an effort stretching across two decades, but Mayor Ken Smith and city attorney Richard Bernardoni announced Wednesday afternoon at a media conference that an out-of-court settlement has been reached between the city of Marshall and Illinois One News, Inc. and 1002 North Illinois One, LLC with respect to the adult-oriented novelty store The Gift Spot.

The agreement, according to information provided by Smith, is that the company “will not operate or permit to be operated any adult use business on the property or any business in which their owner has any interest in or any other business that is substantially similar to The Gift Spot.”

Roy May, of Chicago, owns about 44 adult novelty stores through a variety of holding corporations, Smith said, adding that May could put a different one up next week in another part of Marshall, so long as it’s zoned industrially.

According to Bernardoni, zoning was “the linchpin,” noting that legally a city cannot prohibit a business from “plying its trade,” but they can control where the trade is conducted.

Both Bernardoni and Smith said the operation of an adult novelty store at the town’s entrance from the interstate gave a “bad impression” of the community. The fight against The Gift Spot has been ongoing since the late 1990s, he said.

“The cost was quite substantial if you go beginning to end,” Smith said, guessing the two decades of legal bills to be between $600,000 and $700,000.

For his part, Smith said he thanks the Gift Spot’s owners “for finally coming to terms” and agreeing to close. Although the city does not plan to buy the soon-to-be-vacated building, Smith said they would help market it to another business.

“We will help them out of town,” he said of the Gift Spot.

For more information, click here.


Anti-Porn Group Starts Billboard Campaign Against Adult Store

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. — Anti-pornography organization ROCK is asking people to press Clarksville officials to enforce town laws with a new billboard showing a telephone number that gives a recorded message from ROCK President Bryan Wickens alleging that illegal activities including "sex acts and other acts" occur at a local adult theater, Theatair-X.

A man who answered the telephone at Theatair-X today and identified himself as the manager declined to comment to reporters.

The ROCK billboard message says Clarksville has an ordinance that can be used to protect the public from such activities, and it transfers callers to Town Hall.

Paul Kraft, president of the Clarksville Town Council, said he hasn't yet seen the billboard or heard about calls being transferred to the town number.

"We'll take the calls," Kraft said. "That's why we're in government."

Kraft said to his knowledge the town has received no complaints about Theatair-X other than those from ROCK. Kraft said he believes the business has been in operation at least 40 years.

For more information, click here.