Approval given to long-debated adult entertainment ordinance

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

It’s final — finally.

If there are going to be adult entertainment businesses in the city of Chiefland they will have a few legal hoops to go through, rigorous regulation and licensing and limits on their locations and operations.

The City Commission in its regular Monday evening meeting gave final approval to the final two ordinances that are part of a three-part package that it hopes will deter adult business operators from locating within the city.

The three ordinances are the culmination of a year of work by the commission, City Attorney Norm Fugate, the city Planning Board, the attorney for Liberty Counsel in Orlando, and its main proponents Sylvia McCullar and Marie Strong.

“Has it been a year,” Strong asked. “It has been a long time coming.”

Strong thanked and praised Jesus Christ for the passage of the ordinances.

The ordinances’ justification is outlined as a finding by the City Commission that “sexually oriented businesses, as a category of establishments, are used for unlawful sexual activities, including public masturbation, lewdness, and prostitution; and …there is convincing documented evidence that sexually oriented businesses, as a category of establishments, have deleterious secondary effects and are often associated with crime and adverse effects on surrounding properties; and …the City Commission desires to minimize and control these adverse effects and thereby protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizenry; protect the citizens from crime; preserve the quality of life; preserve the character of surrounding neighborhoods and deter the spread of urban blight; …”

The justification goes on to say it is not the intent to suppress any speech protected by the state and U.S. constitutions, but to further the “content-neutral” interests of the city by controlling the secondary effects of such businesses.

One ordinance, approved several months ago regulates nudity, while the ones approved Monday will mandate licensing with background checks for the business owners and employees, and bar such businesses from within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, recreation, residential or worship center in the city limits and 500 feet from such sites in the county areas on the edge of the city limits.

The types of businesses to be regulated include adult bookstore or film store, cabaret, motel photographic or art studios — other than those operated within the educational system, motion picture theater or drive-in.

The licensing ordinance also requires the business be visible from the public right-of-way, but to erect and 8-foot block fence along all boundaries which do not adjoin a public right-of-way.

It also provides for daily fines for violations and suspension and/or revocation of licensing for various reasons.