City Considers Changes to Adult Business Laws; Attorneys Say Many of the Sex-Oriented Establishments Would Have to Move

Article excerpt


Follow Emerson Street for just a fifth of a mile east of Interstate 95 and you just might blush.

There are two adult video stores in that stretch, Smoker's Video and Hot Video, with some of the tamer selections titled Innocence Lost and Bad Girls. There's also a bikini bar, Wacko's, where dancers dressed in skimpy outfits await.

Some adult businesses there and elsewhere in Jacksonville might have to relocate if a new bill revising the city's adult entertainment laws is approved by the City Council.

The legislation would strip away a part of the ordinance allowing certain adult establishments -- such as adult bookstores and clubs offering full nude dancing -- to obtain exemptions to the city's zoning code, allowing them operate both closer to each other and closer to residences than they'd otherwise be able to.

It would also put an end to private, closed-door "VIP" rooms in bikini bars that the sponsor of the bill, Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins, said encourages prostitution and other illegal activities. However, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says such problems aren't widespread.

Overall, Jenkins said the purpose of the bill is "to give neighborhoods some relief." She said that having adult businesses near homes reduces property values and thus depletes the city's tax base.

"While they might be making money hand over foot in the flesh business, it's really hurting the city if it's not properly located," Jenkins said of adult businesses.

Should the bill be approved, it would undo a portion of legislation the council passed in April, allowing adult businesses not conforming with the zoning code to remain in operation unless they change ownership.

Doing so would mean that many of the city's several dozen adult bookstores would have to move, said Gary Edinger, a Gainesville attorney who represents many of Jacksonville's adult businesses.

"There are very few on conforming sites," he said. …


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