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X-Mart set to reopen after 8-year fight

6-4 vote settles 8-year fight against business

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An eight-year fight to keep an adult video and novelty store out of Augusta has ended.

Topic: Augusta Commission
 - Complete coverage in our topic page:

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."

In other action

A final push by Commissioner Don Grantham to give greater preference to local vendors failed Tuesday, with the commission voting 7-2 to accept a recommendation made by Augusta's Procurement Department.

Grantham had suggested that, in jobs valued at less than $10,000, local vendors who bid within 5 percent of the low bid get the contract at whatever price they bid. He made a similar proposal, which also failed, last week in a committee meeting. Commissioner Jerry Brigham said the proposal could result in the city paying a local vendor more than the low bidder.

The commission approved 8-2 a recommenda-tion by Procurement Director Geri Sams that allows local bidders to win the job if they're within 5 percent as long as they agree to match the low bidder's price. Grantham and Jimmy Smith voted against it.

The commission also approved 9-1, with Brigham voting no, funding for Augusta Neighborhood Enhancement's Barton Village Community Center. The funds, $30,500, run out at the end of the year and are much less than the community center has received for the former federal Weed and Seed endeavor.

Neighborhood Enhancement Director Bettye Jones said the center hated to be cut but was prepared to recruit additional volunteers.

Augusta Technical College already has agreed to pay the salary of a GED instructor at the center, according to Adult Education Executive Director Stefanie Bowie.

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corgimom
31448
Points
corgimom 05/18/10 - 08:03 pm
0
0
What is obscene is the

What is obscene is the massive amount that the City of Augusta spent on this- and lost, and lost big-time.

Just think of all the worthwhile things that this money could've been used for.

sjgraci
2
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sjgraci 05/18/10 - 08:05 pm
0
0
A victory for Civil

A victory for Civil Libertarians.

gabhanjacisa
14
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gabhanjacisa 05/18/10 - 08:07 pm
0
0
Yea! Another victory for

Yea! Another victory for pornography! We should all just be so happy...

floridasun
310
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floridasun 05/18/10 - 08:15 pm
0
0
I agree, what a massive waste

I agree, what a massive waste of time and now taxpayer money to settle a lawsuit that never should have occurred in the first place
And oh yeah, if you don't like what X -Mart is selling then don't go

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 05/18/10 - 08:18 pm
0
0
Another reason why our tax

Another reason why our tax dollars climb. Compromise before you pay out 100's of thousand of dollars!!! Another stupid decision by Augusta commissioners comes back to bite the taxpayer....I can only shake my head.....

countyman
19731
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countyman 05/18/10 - 08:48 pm
0
0
Baronvonreich.... How can you

Baronvonreich.... How can you blame some of the current commissioners? Joe Jackson, Corey Johnson, Alvin Mason, and Matt Aitken weren't commissioners in 2002. It's 2010 and a whole new group of commissioners. Matt Aitken for example just won his election last year.

KatieLou
0
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KatieLou 05/18/10 - 08:46 pm
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0
Hey, while we're at it, why

Hey, while we're at it, why don't we just compromise with the freaks who prey on our children! Just think of all the money we could save by not sending them to prison and not wasting time and money trying to keep track of where they live.

After all, porn and places like X-Mart used to be illegal. Why shouldn't we just decide pedophilia is no longer wrong? And what's up with having a law on statutory rape, for pete's sake? They want to "do it" so why not let 'em? Just who do we think we are we to object to people's natural drives no matter how they choose to gratify them?

(Don't bore us rationalizing porn as a victimless personal preference. Too many genuine, replicated research studies have shown otherwise.)

RoadkiII
6466
Points
RoadkiII 05/18/10 - 08:47 pm
0
0
$550,000 is a nice start up

$550,000 is a nice start up capital figure. I am sure the owners thank the commissioners. Should be very well stocked. When do they open???

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 05/18/10 - 11:58 pm
0
0
I'm not in favor of having

I'm not in favor of having x-mart or other types of businesses such as this in our area. That being said, it was clear from the begining based on our laws and zoning ordinances that X-Mart was within its legal right to open for business. Instead of following the laws and ordinances which some commissoners helped to write, they instead wasted more than $100,000.00 in salaries trying to re-write and change laws, wasted tons of hours of their own time which we pay them for, and gave the business $550,000.00 of taxpayers money and finally allowed them to open. Both our past commisoners and current commissoners were a part of this problem and finally enough of our current commissoners used some common sense and worked out an agreement to end this ridiculousness without wasting more time or money.

jb1234
0
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jb1234 05/18/10 - 08:57 pm
0
0
Katie, a little porn never

Katie, a little porn never hurt anybody :)

Trouble
2506
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Trouble 05/18/10 - 09:00 pm
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ummm, maybe i am missing

ummm, maybe i am missing something here, but could someone PLEASE explain to me what the heck pedophilia has to do with porn? i seriously doubt that the xmart will be selling child porn.........too many meds this morning or what?

KatieLou
0
Points
KatieLou 05/18/10 - 09:07 pm
0
0
Wrong. A little porn has hurt

Wrong. A little porn has hurt lots of people.

Come on, T. You're sharper than that. Go back and read it again, especially the 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence.

Republicant, you're disgusting.

humbleopinion
0
Points
humbleopinion 05/18/10 - 09:07 pm
0
0
Katie, there were pedophiles,

Katie, there were pedophiles, rapists and murderers LONG BEFORE there were stores that sold adult novelties.....What would you blame that upon? Not only has it now cost the TAXPAYERS of Richmond County $550,000 in a settlement, it has cost countless hundreds of thousands MORE in legal expenses and LOST tax revenue over the past 8 years. As someone who has to drive down Gordon Highway about once a week I have to say this store will be no worse than the run down motels that house drug dealers / users, prostitutes and sex offenders that can't live anywhere else in the county. They are a bigger threat to society than one retail store.

HLR
0
Points
HLR 05/18/10 - 09:12 pm
0
0
This should have never been

This should have never been an issue. Which "travelers" will find this offensive or distasteful? Made up story by some dilusional commissioners, the only travelers around that area are trucker; I'm sure they will love it. How about the strip clubs downtown, right next to a church, those are fine? Oh wait, they have been trying to close those too. If you don't llike these type of establishments don't look at them, don't go to visit them, don't waste your time talking about them, whatever. This is the USA and the X-mart owner played his cards quite perfectly! What if the X-mart owner found churches offensive? Oh wait lets not go there huh? While on subject, can somebody explain to me why one is not able to buy beer on Sunday?

windinmyface
0
Points
windinmyface 05/18/10 - 09:12 pm
0
0
They closed the business. But

They closed the business. But the sign remained up. Everyone that drove past the building saw the sign. This was a total waste of the taxpayers money. 550,000 wow just wondering if he would have cleared that much if the county had left them alone in the first place.

OnlyinAgs
1
Points
OnlyinAgs 05/18/10 - 09:16 pm
0
0
This is Obama's fault they

This is Obama's fault they are re-opening, this is yet another cloward/pivens crisis isn't it you ODSers?

Trouble
2506
Points
Trouble 05/18/10 - 09:16 pm
0
0
ok katie, so what you are

ok katie, so what you are saying is since porn now legal, we should legalize pedophilia? i still dont get it, adult entertainment is just that and between 2 consenting adults, child rape is an entirely different story, and i cant for the life of me see how you could ever compare the two

HLR
0
Points
HLR 05/18/10 - 09:16 pm
0
0
Before I forget... Lets turn

Before I forget... Lets turn the blind eye to the homosexual establishment on the same strip. Why is that one fine and the other one not? The gigantic rainbow flag in front of it does not represent christianity...

Riverman1
82428
Points
Riverman1 05/18/10 - 09:17 pm
0
0
Wasn't there an earlier

Wasn't there an earlier payment of $200,000 also?

kenworth
0
Points
kenworth 05/18/10 - 09:34 pm
0
0
oh boy i have to post on

oh boy i have to post on this. 1st off most of the time you see an adult store they are right off a major interstate. maybe out of town a little but very visable to all the traveling public. 2nd has anyone thought of the tax revenue that this place will bring in. but now it will take awhile to replace the tax dollars spent to keep them out. 3rd i thought this was the USA but then again maybe not. im sure my girlfreind and i will visit the place and maybe get some toys for behind the closed doors. hope they have some quality stuff.

rmajor
8
Points
rmajor 05/18/10 - 09:36 pm
0
0
It's just not what anyone

It's just not what anyone should see coming off the expressway. What adults do in the privacy of their homes, that fine. But it's just not in an appropriate place. I don't know. It's adult movies, on a seedy strip...just not a good combination. I know there is the one in South Carolina. That was enough. I like Augusta because it's a small, family centered town...not Las Vegas. All they have to do is keep driving downtown near 6th street, away from residential neighborhoods, and do whatever . I really hope this establishment doesn't prosper. That's negative to say...but I think it's bad for the city.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 05/18/10 - 09:40 pm
0
0
RM, No it was not paid. They

RM, No it was not paid. They had a 140,000 judgement that is part of our 550,000.00 settlement.
We finally had 6 votes to do the right thing(like it or not) it's legal

kenworth
0
Points
kenworth 05/18/10 - 09:41 pm
0
0
rmajor last time i looked at

rmajor last time i looked at where it was located on gordon hyway it was quite a ways from i20 and 520 and was not located in a residential area.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 05/18/10 - 09:42 pm
0
0
Personally I have no interest

Personally I have no interest in the store but the govt had no right to tell them they couldn't open in the first place. What law were they breaking? I know that morally people don't approve but there were no laws stopping them. Obviously someone agrees and the cost to the Richmond County taxpayers is $550,000.

If government would just stay out of 95% of our business, things would work themselves out. They probably would have been open 6 months and then closed.

mahalo ke akua
0
Points
mahalo ke akua 05/18/10 - 09:48 pm
0
0
Katie, It's apples and

Katie, It's apples and oranges that you are comparing. Your thinking is bazaar, twisted and sick.

Trouble.. my reason above is how she can compare the two.

sjgraci
2
Points
sjgraci 05/18/10 - 10:04 pm
0
0
Equating legal consentual

Equating legal consentual acts between adults with illegal activities of child and adult rapists or other unconsentual acts is just twisted and is the mindset of what sent this stupid case to trial in the first place.

Grow up. You are supposed to be adults. Again, this is a big win for freedom loving Civil Libertarians.

mahalo ke akua
0
Points
mahalo ke akua 05/18/10 - 10:12 pm
0
0
well said sjgraci

well said sjgraci

Riverman1
82428
Points
Riverman1 05/18/10 - 10:17 pm
0
0
JoeBowles said, "RM, No it

JoeBowles said, "RM, No it was not paid. They had a 140,000 judgement that is part of our 550,000.00 settlement.
We finally had 6 votes to do the right thing(like it or not) it's legal."

Ah, thanks for the clarification. I believe it was the right thing to do, too. Let's not repeat that fiasco.

AugustaVoter
2
Points
AugustaVoter 05/18/10 - 10:36 pm
0
0
At least the registered sex

At least the registered sex offenders at the close motels can walk to get their jollies off. Maybe they will leave our kids alone.

libertarianvoter
0
Points
libertarianvoter 05/18/10 - 10:46 pm
0
0
X-Mart was completely legal.

X-Mart was completely legal. It's a shame that so many tax payer dollars had to be used to argue with a legal business that should have been left alone in the first place. Here we are again with another example of politicians trying to force their Christian beliefs on the public!

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