Georgia Community Fights Against Adult Store

Steve Javors
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — The owner of an adult bookstore chain has filed a federal lawsuit against Fulton County, Ga. because it has denied him a business license. John Cornetta, owner of the 10-store chain Love Shack, is seeking to open a 10,000 square-foot location in the small Georgia community of Johns Creek.

Cornetta applied for a regular business license because his inventory will contain less than 25 percent of adult material. According to state law, if a business opens with more than 25 percent adult merchandise, it qualifies as an adult store and triggers zoning restrictions and other regulatory measures.

Fulton County officials argue that despite the percentage of inventory being adult material, Love Shack is an adult business and needs to be appropriately licensed or move to a new location.

The community of Johns Creek will officially become a city Dec. 1. Gov. Sonny Perdue created the city in late March with House Bill 1321.

Mayor designate Mike Bodker held a town hall meeting at Chattahoochee High School to discuss the store’s proposed opening. Approximately 900 residents attended. At the meeting, Bodker said one of the first things the City Council will do when it takes office is pass multiple adult entertainment laws. He mentioned laws defining obscenity and adult business zoning.

Additionally, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that Bodker said state Rep. Mark Burkhalter, R-Alpharetta, would introduce legislation that seeks to re-establish the state obscenity law that was overturned by a federal appellate court in February.

“If they open, we’re prepared,” Bodker said. “If they don’t open, we’re prepared. We’re prepared to regulate adult businesses in Johns Creek. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten on this. People are upset about this. They do not want this in our community.”

While the Love Shack had a few supporters at the meeting, the bulk of the attendees were dead set against an adult business opening in their town. Some residents spoke of creating an unfriendly business atmosphere for the store — taking pictures of people as they enter, filling up parking spaces and posting anti-porn signs in the community.

“I live in a community close to where this is going,” resident Tom Embrey said at the meeting. “The whole city is against it because of the clientele that will be attracted, their moral character and their effect on children.”

Michael Garrison, who operates the North Atlanta Dance Academy across the street from the proposed Love Shack location, has been a vocal opponent of the store.

“Of all the things that could go there, that’s the worst,” Garrison told the Journal-Constitution. “It’s a direct threat to my business. I’m concerned that when parents come to register, they’ll look over and see a porn shop.”