Originally created 11/11/06

City wins suit with X-Mart



The city has won a lawsuit filed by the owners of an adult entertainment store that sought to stay open off Gordon Highway.

In an order signed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. issued a final, 27-page ruling in the case of Augusta Video Inc. v. Augusta-Richmond County.

"The defendant's motion for summary judgement is granted," Judge Bowen wrote.

The owners of X-Mart filed suit in June 2002. X-Mart contended the city's zoning and licensing scheme for adult entertainment businesses was and is unconstitutional.

"A somewhat tortured procedural history followed," Judge Bowen wrote.

It included the rewriting of city ordinances, the last of which was the Adult Entertainment Ordinance passed in April 2003.

The 2003 ordinance allows for such businesses, but only in certain areas of the city. X-Mart's owners contended that the options were so poor that the ordinance was unconstitutional.

In his ruling, Judge Bowen disagreed. There are 236 sites available in 18 different geographical locations of the city, he wrote.

X-Mart raised objections about the sites' potential for a retail business. Judge Bowen found that isn't an issue pertinent to the constitutional question. Economic feasibility is not a First Amendment concern, the judge quoted from case law on the issue.

Located near the intersection of Molly Pond Road and Gordon Highway, the business was denied an adult entertainment license in 2002 after the commission changed city licensing laws to keep such businesses from opening along "gateway corridors," or highly visible parts of the city.

But a series of legal proceedings and administrative mistakes continued to open and close X-Mart in a yo-yo fashion.

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