Originally created 06/25/02

Adult bookstore sues commission



As promised, a lawsuit was filed Monday against the Augusta government and commissioners over last week's denial of a special zoning request for an adult video and bookstore.

Augusta Video Inc.'s lawsuit in U.S. District Court seeks a finding that the city's adult entertainment ordinance violates free speech, as does the June 18 action by the Augusta Commission.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary or permanent injunction against enforcement of the city's adult entertainment ordinance.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a dispute. The city has 30 days to respond.

Augusta Video met all licensing and regulations required to obtain the special zoning permit to open the store on Molly Pond Road at the intersection of Gordon Highway and Doug Barnard Parkway.

Commissioners overturned the planning commission's recommendation based on the "discretion of commissioners," as provided in the city ordinance.

The vote taken in a packed courtroom brought a standing ovation from residents attending the meeting. The week before, some residents staged a demonstration at the site of the proposed store.

The lawsuit clearly states that the business plan was to sell sexually explicit videotapes, DVDs, magazines and a variety of "adult novelties."

"Plaintiff believes that providing this form of expressive communication to the public is a beneficial social activity which enhances 'individual' conscious ability to assimilate and consider various issues involving sexual candor and the interest in human sexuality that all human beings have to a greater or lesser degree," the lawsuit reads. "The expression offered by plaintiff's business is not intended to be, nor is it, obscene as contemplated by contemporary community standards. Plaintiff believes the specified movies and magazines contain serious artistic value."

The special conditions required under the city's ordinance for adult-entertainment business, the lawsuit alleges, are an unconstitutional mode of censorship, prior restraint, and are intended to suppress speech of an erotic nature.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com.