Adult business ordinance should get final approval

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The City Commission has approved on first reading what is expected to be the final versions of two ordinances regulating adult entertainment businesses and expects to give final approval to them in late February.

The commission voted 4-0 to approve the licensing and location of adult establishments. Commissioner Teresa Barron, a strong supporter of the measures was absent from the meeting due to illness. Also absent were the two major proponents of the measures, Sylvia McCullar and Marie Strong. McCullar is out of town and Strong was unable to attend the commission’s regular meeting on Monday evening.

Final approval of the measures is expected at the commission’s Feb. 23 meeting because the city Planning Board needs to give its approval to the ordinance on location of the adult establishments.

The commission has been wrangling with a trio of ordinances regulating adult entertainment within city limits, although there is no such business and the commission has made no indication that such businesses are trying to locate within the city. However, the city’s ecumenical leaders have supported the steps.

City Attorney Norm Fugate, who presented the two ordinances last night, said he had consulted with Liberty Counsel in Orlando, a legal religious group contacted by McCullar on the issue. The group provides consultation to help avoid legal challenges and nullification of ordinances regulating adult entertainment.

“I provided copies to the attorney at Liberty Counsel and they are acceptable to them,” Fugate said. “He congratulated us on the process.”

The licensing ordinance calls for background checks on the business’ owners, managers and employees.

The location ordinance limits the business to industrial zoned areas that are at least 1,000 feet away from schools, day care, recreational, worship, and residential areas in the city and 500 feet away from similar locations in county areas abutting city limits.