Jackson County Passes Adult Business Ordinance

Tod Hunter
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Jackson County Legislature on Tuesday passed the adult entertainment business ordinance that was under consideration last week.

The 38-page ordinance applies to any business in unincorporated Jackson County but is aimed at a Erotic City, an adult entertainment center in Blue Summit, which offers adult magazines and books, nude dancers at a nonalcoholic bar and 26 video viewing booths.

The recent federal felony conviction of a man for taking a 14-year-old girl across state lines and having unlawful sex with her at Erotic City reportedly led to the new ordinance's passage, although the establishment was never charged with any crime.

“The sooner we regulate this industry, the better off we all are going to be,” said County Executive Mike Sanders, who proposed the ordinance eight days before it passed on Tuesday. Sanders said the ordinance was patterned after legislation in nine other local governments, notably Kansas City.

Businesses will be allowed 60-90 days to meet some requirements of the ordinance, including a ban on locked doors on video booths, the sealing of holes between booths and a requirement that all employees get background checks and be licensed. Other parts of the ordinance — including a new requirement that nude dancers have no physical contact with patrons and a ban on people having sex in video viewing booths — go into effect immediately.

Last week the county sheriff’s office said that deputies responded to the Erotic City address 115 times since 2004. Calls have included reports of assaults, car thefts, harassment and property damage. Erotic City has not been charged with any offenses.

Owners and managers have refused comment on the operation of Erotic City, referring questions to lawyer Berry F. Laws III, who has been out of town.

While there is some concern that the county will be sued over the ordinance, Scott Bergthold — a Chattanooga, Tenn., attorney who specializes in drafting and defending regulations for adult businesses and is a consultant to the county — told the Legislature Tuesday that many such laws withstood court challenges. Bergthold claimed that local governments can show that adult businesses reduce property values, cause blight, create property and personal crime and generate illegal drugs and lewd behavior.