An eight-year fight to keep an adult video and novelty store out of Augusta has ended.
On Tuesday, Augusta commissioners voted 6-4 to settle two Augusta Video X-Mart lawsuits pending in federal court for $550,000.
Under the terms of the settlement, X-Mart will be issued an adult entertainment permit and business license, allowing it to reopen its doors at 1367 Gordon Highway.
The Florida company's local counsel, William Sussman, said X-Mart likely would reopen in a few weeks.
Commissioners Jimmy Smith, J.R. Hatney, Don Grantham and Jerry Brigham voted against the settlement. Brigham estimated that the X-Mart suits had cost the city about $150,000 in legal bills.
"While it was expensive, it probably was productive," Brigham said. "We had the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals say our business license ordinance is constitutional, as far as regulating the adult entertainment industry."
In 2002, commissioners tried to prevent X-Mart from opening by passing an ordinance that prohibited business licenses from being issued to adult businesses along gateway corridors.
X-Mart sued over the ordinance's passage, which was done without required public hearings, and was later awarded damages of $131,000 for lost income and profit from April 2002 to July 2002, when the city passed a new business license ordinance.
Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason said although he wouldn't shop at X-Mart, actions by a previous board to deny X-Mart a business license were wrong.
"You're kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't," he said of the settlement. "It cost all of us, but those decisions were made seven or eight years ago."