Federal Judge Overturns W. Va. Exotic Entertainment Law

Bob Preston
MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A federal judge has overturned a four-year-old law the restricted the number of places where gentlemen's clubs could be built.

Judge Christopher C. Wilkes of the 23rd Judicial Circuit based his ruling on a 2006 West Virginia Supreme Court ruling that prevents counties with planning commissions from restricting the locations of strip clubs.

The 2004 exotic entertainment ordinance, which governs Berkeley County, W. Va., would affect the location of Paradise City Gentleman's Club in the southern area of the county.

The attorney for the gentlemen's club, Floyd M. Sayre III, asked Judge Wilkes for an injunction against the county's planning commission, which was planning to enforce the old law. The judge grudgingly agreed, calling the oridinance "invalid."

The county's legal counsel, Norwood Bentley III, said that in light of the ruling, other counties will be less likely to form planning commissions.

At the same time, Sayre conceded that although his client won this decision, the adult industry ought to regulated.

"This industry does need regulation," Sayre said. "However, the legislature and the Supreme Court have tied the hands of the county commission."