Sex ordinance modeled after Gainesville's

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

A proposed ordinance allowing nudity at adult businesses brought one Chiefland City Commissioner to tears because it conflicts with her Christian beliefs.

Vice Mayor Teresa Barron suddenly burst into tears for a couple of moments during the discussion at Monday's regular commission meeting that was attended by about 20 citizens, including students.

"This is breaking my heart," Barron said as she teared up. After the meeting she said considering the measure was the hardest thing she must do as a city commissioner. "It conflicts with my Christian beliefs to vote to allow nudity."

"But all the pastors came and said we need to have this," she said.

After much discussion, the commission decided to consider adopting a licensing ordinance that mirrors Levy County's adult business licensing ordinance. The measure will come up for a first reading at the commission's Oct. 27 meeting.

In addition, the city will adopt a zoning ordinance modeled after Gainesville's with a ban on adult businesses within 1,000 feet of residential, day care, schools, recreation and worship sites.

During Monday's meeting, Planning Director Bill Hammond presented a map showing the effect of 500 foot and 1,000 foot buffer zones. The commission directed City Attorney Norm Fugate to put the 1,000 foot buffer into the zoning ordinance.

"It covers pretty much just about everything," Hammond said of the 1,000 foot zone without including the residential areas. Hammond said once residential areas were included, the only areas left would be Andrews Timber Co. land in the south end of the city and a newly annexed area in the north end of the city.

"It doesn't leave too much of the city" to locate such a business," Hammond said.

"I'm for putting 'em out where the landfills are," Mayor Teal Pomeroy said later in the meeting.

The commission decided against creating a special zoning classification for the adult businesses and will include them in the commercial classification already in the city's plan. Fugate also told the commissioners that the zoning ordinance regulating adult businesses would need to be approved by the city Planning Committee before the commission could consider it.

One concern Barron had with using three proposed ordinances modeled after Gainesville's was whether they had been tested in court. Fugate, who drew up the proposals, said the Gainesville ordinances had not been tested in court, but were based on other cities' ordinances which had withstood legal challenges.

Barron said at one point she wanted the commission to ban all adult business in the city, but Fugate said that would stand a judicial test.

"You are inviting that to be a test case," Fugate said.

"If we were to get a challenge we could repeal that ordinance," she said.

"If you repeal it then you are saying 'We're letting you come in'," he said. "There are businesses out there and there are lawyers paired up with them that are waiting to challenge that case."

Fugate told the commission the Levy County licensing ordinance is broader than the Gainesville licensing ordinance. The commission decided to drop the Gainesville model and go with the Levy licensing model.

Commissioner Rollin Hudson also warned: "If somebody wants to teach the city of Chiefland a lesson and gets everything right they could put one right next to First Baptist." Hudson also gave a nod of his head to Sylvia McCullar, an activist who has been a strong proponent of banning or tightly regulating such businesses.

Pomeroy who told Fugate the makeup of the Supreme Court has changed since the last round of sexually-oriented business cases, also expressed his displeasure with a reminder that the court has held that such businesses are protected under the U.S. Constitution's "free speech" amendment.

"I disagree with that. Our Supreme Court is one vote away from banning guns and if they do that then that's when I won't abide by that," Pomeroy said.