Originally created 05/24/04

Grovetown law would regulate adult entertainment



Columbia County doesn't have an adult entertainment business, but that's not stopping Grovetown officials from looking for a way to control the establishments.

For weeks, Grovetown City Council members have mulled over versions of an ordinance that would strictly regulate adult entertainment businesses, including adult bookstores, novelty shops, video stores, peep shows, theaters and massage parlors.

"We really don't want the publicity or the things that come along with one of those adult bookstores, the clientele that it services," Mayor Dennis Trudeau said.

City residents will be able to make comments about the proposed ordinance during a public meeting at 6 p.m. today at Grovetown's City Hall.

The controversy surrounding the licensing of Augusta Video X-Mart in Richmond County during the past two years helped spur Mr. Trudeau and the city council to establish regulations before it becomes an issue in the city.

The store has been at the center of cases in federal district and appellate courts after Augusta commissioners revoked its license. It is currently closed.

"That kind of brought it on," Mr. Trudeau said. "We need to have an ordinance in place, so anyone applying for an adult bookstore venue, we would be able to have the ordinance that they would have to abide by."

City officials also said they wanted to avoid what they considered negative secondary effects of adult entertainment businesses that occurred in other Georgia cities, including drops in property values, neighborhood depression and increased criminal activity near the businesses.

Columbia County already has an ordinance that regulates distance and zoning requirements for adult entertainment businesses.

It states that the businesses cannot be within 500 feet of a residential house, a public library or a place that holds religious services. Also, the business has to be at least 1,000 feet from schools or college campuses.

Grovetown's proposed ordinance would require adult entertainment business owners to pay a $750 annual regulatory fee and hire an on-premises operator.

The adult business would have to be located at least 1,000 feet from residential land or property that houses a church, school, college campus, public park, public or private playground, day care or any business licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises.

Mr. Trudeau said Grovetown has not received applications for an adult business.

"It would be difficult for (anyone) to establish a bookstore here (after the ordinance is passed)," he said.

Grovetown's city council will consider the ordinance at its June 14 and June 28 meetings.

Like Grovetown, Harlem does not have an ordinance in place to regulate adult entertainment businesses, but it will soon, Harlem City Manager Jean Dove said.

"We are working to include that in our new updated (zoning) regulations," she said.

Columbia County Bureau Chief Vicky Eckenrode contributed to this article.

Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.