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Retail News for the Week of Jan. 12-16
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Jan 16, 2009 5:15 PM PST    Text size: 

City Restricts Adult Businesses

CHIEFLAND, Fla. — Adult entertainment businesses that want to open in Chiefland will have to erect an eight-foot fence around the property and be at least 500 feet away from areas county-zoned residential areas and 1,000 feet away from city-zoned recreational, public, educational, day care and church sites.

That was the decision of the Chiefland City Commission in its regular meeting Monday evening after commissioners viewed a series of maps showing the amount of acreage and the number of parcels available under several setback scenarios.

The Commission voted unanimously to require the high fence around all such properties and to have an adjustment in the setbacks.

The city has just over 4,000 acres of land within city limits and under the preferred option, 47 parcels of land comprising 56.5 acres would be available for adult entertainment businesses to pursue for locating an enterprise.

City Attorney Norm Fugate said he had corresponded with the attorney from Liberty Counsel, a religious legal advocacy law center in Orlando, on which of the proposed maps would withstand a legal challenge. Fugate said the Liberty Counsel attorney who is representing Sylvia McCullar, the main advocate for the adult entertainment business ordinances, said the map adopted by the commission “would be acceptable.”

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Store's Planned Opening Delayed

COWETA, Ga. — Planned adult store Starship did not open Thursday as originally predicted, but the company president did meet with Coweta officials Thursday afternoon to discuss how the store will comply with Coweta's ordinances.

As long as the store does not have 25 percent or more items considered "adult" under the ordinance, it can operate as a regular commercial business.

Starship CEO Kelly Rogers said the meeting with Coweta officials went well.

"They are definitely holding us to the letter of their ordinance, making sure that we comply with all of their ordinances and regulations, which we assured them we would," Rogers said. "Of course, they're going to audit us once we get open. We welcome that, and they're going to make sure we comply. Other than that, we've just got to apply for the business license, and we'll be ready to open when we get it."

Rogers said he hasn't been able to apply for the business license yet because he hasn't yet received a certificate of occupancy from the building department. Rogers had some remodeling done on the building and is waiting for the building inspector to sign off on the final inspection and grant the certificate.

Rogers said his phone has been ringing off the hook all day with calls from people wanting to know if the store is open yet or not.

"It's been tons of people this morning wanting to come shop, saying they wanted to be the first customers," Rogers said. "So definitely, where I thought there was a need, it is starting to show," he said. "We've probably received over 100 applications for employment. We're in the process of doing the hiring right now."

As long as Starship meets the county's ordinances, the county is pretty much required to issue the license.

Rogers said after Thursday's meeting that "they are definitely holding us to the letter of their ordinance."

The county's ordinance specifically mentions the items commonly known as sex toys. When Georgia had a statewide ban on sex toys, retailers got around the ban by putting stickers on items saying "for novelty use only."

"We don't try to play that game," Rogers said. "If there is any question at all, we put it in the adult column."

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Strip Club Controversy Goes to Court

ZUMBRO FALLS, Minn. — A two-year-old state law effectively bans adult entertainment in almost all small towns in Minnesota and is unconstitutional, claims the attorney for a firm that wants to open the Pussycat Cabaret in Zumbro Falls.

Attorney Randall Tigue has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Zumbro Falls on behalf of his client, the Pussycat Cabaret LLC.

He also has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order to keep Zumbro Falls from taking any action to enforce the state law and its city ordinance while the lawsuit is pending.

For decades, Tigue has been an attorney for Minnesota's adult entertainment industry, taking on what he has called First Amendment legal battles throughout the state. In this case, he claims that the statute is unconstitutional and violates the First and 14th amendment rights of the owners of the Pussycat Cabaret. Shakiba DeWitz of Rochester is listed as president of the Pussycat Cabaret, LLC., which owns a 10-year lease on a parcel of real estate in Zumbro Falls, a town of fewer than 200 in Wabasha County.

The lawsuit was filed Friday. No response has been filed on behalf of the city of Zumbro Falls. Mayor Alan Vandewalker was not available for comment.

Tigue, in his complaint and motion documents, said the business is effectively shut out by the state law enacted in 2006 that puts severe restrictions on where such businesses can be located and also gives local units of government "unfettered discretion" to deny permission to operate.

Tigue has asked the court to find the state law unconstitutional and to find the Zumbro Falls ordinance as applied in this case is an unlawful prior restraint on constitutional rights.

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City Council Toughens Adult Entertainment Laws

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. — City council members here have tightened their laws governing adult entertainment businesses — while the man who prompted the move by applying for one insists everyone in his bar will keep their clothes on.

"They won't be showing any of their vital parts," said Chuck Egley, who wants to add new dancing areas to his downtown bar.

Council members unanimously passed a new city code Monday night that tightens the restrictions on owners and employees of adult entertainment businesses.

The new laws require the owners, managers and all performers in the business to obtain a license. Previously, only the owner needed a license. The new laws should help eliminate "finger pointing" if something bad happens, said city manager Eric Swansen.

The code also stipulates dancers must stay four feet away from customers and perform on a stage.

The law maintains a 1,000-foot minimum distance from schools, churches, other adult businesses and city parks.

In July, Egley applied for a license from the city that listed "adult entertainment" and "exotic dancing." The city council then put a moratorium on new adult entertainment businesses while they researched changes to the ordinances and allowed community members to chime in through public hearings. Most opposed it.

Egley calls all of it a misunderstanding. The terms "adult entertainment" and "exotic dancing" were the city staff's idea, not his, he says.

He said Monday that his plans now only involve dancing among his customers, and the city is still determining if Egley's proposal falls under the new adult entertainment rules.

"I'm not sure if what he's proposing constitutes adult entertainment or not," city attorney Mark Kunkler said.

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