The Weekly Retail Report

Tod Hunter

City Council Denies Permit to Topless Club

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The City Council has denied a liquor license and dance permits for a topless club in northeast Birmingham. The vote came today after a lengthy hearing where more than 40 people opposed Sensation Palace, near the Birmingham-Trussville city line.

Council members said the club would be a detriment to the community. Mayors Tommy Joe Alexander of Irondale and Gene Melton of Trussville also spoke against the club.

Don Blankenship, an attorney representing Sensation Palace, said there is no legal reason to deny the license and permits. He plans to file an appeal.

Previously, an estimated 28 people opposing the permit attended a council committee meeting. The group was so large that it forced the committee out of its usual conference room and into council chambers.

County Regulates Adult Entertainment

DOTHAN, Ala. — The Houston County Commission has unanimously approved local legislation that would regulate strip clubs countywide. The law would prohibit new strip clubs from serving alcohol in an effort to discourage future clubs from opening.

Currently, there are six adult-themed clubs in Houston County. They would be exempt under the new provision unless a club changes ownership or violates the rules of its liquor license.

"We don't want to put anybody out of a job right now, we're not putting a line in the sand and saying all these places will close, but what we do want to do is stop the expansion of this type of facility," said Mark Culver, chairman of the Houston County Commission.

State lawmakers in Montgomery must approve the legislation before it takes effect. The county hopes to present the legislation for approval during a proposed special called session of the state legislature in August. If not, it will be presented during next year's regular session.


Zoning Board OKs Adult Business Restrictions

EAST LYME, Conn. — The East Lyme zoning board set up regulations for adult businesses July 9.

The commission scheduled a public hearing to discuss the regulation before the vote. Although the hearing was advertised in the newspaper and posted on the commission's agenda, no citizens attended.

Adult establishments must be more than 900 feet from a school, church, hospital, library, licensed-care facility, residential area, public park or other adult business.

Commission members said the regulations require adult businesses like strip clubs, theaters, escort services and sex shops to open in very specific places.

There are currently no adult businesses in the town, and none are planned.

”We're trying to be proactive and get ahead of a future application that might come in,” said Mark Nickerson, commission chairman.


Adult Business Moratorium Passes

FRANKLIN PARK, Ill. — A July 8 public hearing over adult businesses in Franklin Park drew few attendees, only one of whom addressed the hearing.

"I see on Mannheim Road prostitutes walking down the street in the wee hours of the morning," said Tom Johnson, a Franklin Park resident. "I feel that these businesses only encourage this type of activity."

The Franklin Park Plan Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously voted to recommend a nine-month moratorium on new adult businesses.

The proposed moratorium is scheduled to go before village trustees on July 20 for final approval.


Adult Business Restrictions Approved

BURNS HARBOR, Ind. — Stricter laws regulating sexually oriented businesses are headed to the Town Council for final action to amend a new zoning ordinance adopted last month.

The town’s Advisory Plan Commission voted unanimously to forward the 10-page ordinance following a public hearing that drew one favorable comment, where commission attorney Charles Parkinson, introduced into the record municipal studies and U.S. Supreme Court decisions that indicate sexually oriented businesses have negative secondary effects felt by not only existing businesses in the vicinity but also by the surrounding residential areas and the public at large.

Previously, adult businesses were allowed in a Commercial-2 zone with a special exception that needed the approval of both the town Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals. Now such uses would be located in a Special District-7 and have to meet numerous additional restrictions.

The ordinance requires adult businesses to be aminimum of 1,000 feet from churches, parks, schools, residential areas, child care centers, child care homes, nursing shelters or rest homes, religious institutions, athletic fields or amusement centers, theaters, museums, libraries or other area where large numbers of minors travel or congregate. They also cannot be located within a 1,000-foot radius from the intersection of any two streets that consitute a gateway into town or within 1,000 feet of another adult business.

Exterior displays, signs and lighting also are regulated.

The commission vote to forward a favorable recommendation on the sexually oriented business changes was 4-0 with three members absent.


Planned Bills Would Add Restrictions to Adult Stores

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — Two bills that Prince George's County Council is considering would strengthen zoning and licensing regulations on adult bookstores and video stores.

The first bill designates an adult video or bookstore as any outlet where more than 10 percent of publicly accessible floor space comprises adult materials. The second bill requires adult store owners to be licensed by the Department of Environmental Resources. The license will cost $250 and must be renewed every three years. If passed, owners would have until July 1, 2010, to comply with the new laws.

Both bills have been referred to the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee.

Some claim that Wholesale Lingerie and Gift Center on Route 1 in Beltsville violates existing laws. Residents claim the store allows prostitutes and drug dealers to operate out of its parking lot and have seen condoms, sex toys and underwear in their backyards.

Management could not be reached for comment.

Wholesale Lingerie and Marlow Heights Periodicals in Temple Hills remain the only recognized adult video stores in Prince George's County.

Adult bookstores and video stores are already required to be located in a certain industrial zone. Furthermore, all nonconforming adult bookstores must be located at least 1,000 feet from any property in a residential zone, although residences in Beltsville are within 1,000 feet of Wholesale Lingerie.

Another issue for residents and officials is Wholesale Lingerie's hours of operation. County law also requires adult bookstores to be closed from midnight to 9 a.m., but Wholesale Lingerie is open 24 hours, which has resulted in residents' accusations of prostitution and drug dealing.

In November 2008, Beltsville residents joined members of The Maryland Coalition Against Pornography to protest against the store.


City Wants Adult Store Suit Heard in Federal Court

CARYVILLE , Tenn. —The town of Caryville, facing a lawsuit by an adult bookstore business, wants the case transferred from state court to federal jurisdiction.

The lawsuit by Adult World LLC and its president Steve Hale was filed June 22 in Campbell County Chancery Court. The suit claims the town's ordinance regulating adult oriented businesses is overly broad and unconstitutional in several respects.

On Tuesday, Robert H. Watson, attorney for Caryville, filed a notice to move the case to federal court.

Bookstore attorney Mike Hatmaker, when asked if he would oppose moving the case, would only say, "Maybe."

Adult World has been in operation since 2002 and sells sexually explicit books, magazines, videos and what the lawsuit describes as "novelties." It presents what the lawsuit describes as "adult sexually oriented movies" in theaters designed for multiple occupancy as well as "private viewing booths designed for use by one customer at a time."

Since October 2008, the business has included nude dancing in a portion of the building, according to the lawsuit.

In November, Caryville police, supported by several other agencies, raided the business. Indecent exposure charges were filed against two dancers and several customers.

Hatmaker went to court immediately and had the store's business license returned.

The lawsuit wants the town enjoined from further enforcement of the ordinance and seeks an unspecified amount of damages. Hatmaker said the lawsuit will be amended later to "address specific monetary damages" to be sought. The lawsuit states in its factual allegations that it has incurred damages of "no more than $10 million."