X-Mart keeps up fight in new suit

The business that wants to be Augusta's only adult video store has sued the city.

Again.

This time, Augusta Video, the owners of the licensed trade name X Mart Adult Supercenter, allege the city violated the First Amendment and selectively enforced its city code and licensing rules unlawfully.

The business also contends it is entitled to damages and attorneys fees, previously estimated in the $4 million to $6 million range.

The newest federal lawsuit was filed July 16 in U.S. District Court.

X-Mart's owners have been fighting the city since 2002 to open an adult video store at its 1367 Gordon Highway site.

In September, the business owners won an appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court ruled the store is entitled to grandfather status as far as zoning requirements are concerned. The city had used zoning as the issue to keep X-Mart out.

Last month, X-Mart owners attempted to obtain a business tax certificate and adult entertainment permit.

They were turned down based on the city's contention that X-Mart would be in violation of the licensing rule that restricts where adult entertainment businesses can be located.

The lawsuit accuses the city of ignoring the authority of the federal appeals court.

The city's denial is "not based on content-neutral laws or policies but is instead motivated solely by a disagreement with the message of human sexuality," the lawsuit reads in part.

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

X-MART THROUGH THE YEARS

JUNE 2002: Planning commission recommends zoning exception to allow X-Mart to open, but city commissioners refuse.

JULY 2002: X-Mart files federal lawsuit, alleging city adult entertainment code is unconstitutional.

JULY 26, 2002: Federal judge rules the city code ordinance on adult entertainment is unconstitutional.

JANUARY 2003: Judge rules X-Mart can open.

APRIL 2003: City enacts new adult entertainment ordinance.

DECEMBER 2003: City revokes X-Mart's business license under the new city ordinances, a move the federal judge ruled is legal, and X-Mart appeals.

SEPTEMBER 2007: Federal appeals court rules X-Mart must be granted grandfather status for zoning requirements.

JUNE 2008: X-Mart applies for and is denied a city business tax certificate.

JULY 2008: X-Mart sues again.

Source: Augusta Chronicle archives