Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Set to Rein Adult Entertainment; Council Vote Would Make Clubs among Most Tightly Regulated

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Set to Rein Adult Entertainment; Council Vote Would Make Clubs among Most Tightly Regulated

Article excerpt


For the past 20 years, Charlie Hartsock has operated the Doll House, located in Jacksonville's St. Nicholas neighborhood, where women with such stage names as "Destiny" and "Candy" bare all while cavorting before men.

In another five years, his club may be forced to find a new address.

The City Council is expected to vote tonight on legislation that would make the city's adult entertainment businesses among the most tightly regulated in Florida, according to an attorney for these firms.

The additional restrictions would force adult bookstores and nude dancing clubs that don't comply with the zoning code, like the Doll House, to move; license all dancers at adult establishments; and ban private "VIP" rooms and closed-door motion picture booths where patrons can view pornographic films.

It's the prospect of moving that is most upsetting to Hartsock. His club, across Atlantic Boulevard from Assumption Catholic Church and Bishop Kenny High School, is surrounded by houses. When he opened the Doll House, the club was the required legal distance from its neighbors. But over time, the city has increased the minimum distances between adult entertainment businesses and other types of buildings. Though the Doll House was exempted from those changes because of a grandfather clause -- three times in all, Hartsock said -- the pending legislation would strip away such special cases.

"I don't see where they have the right to do that," Hartsock said. "I don't think anybody would like that, especially when you own your own property."

Councilwoman Suzanne Jenkins, who introduced the bill, said Jacksonville's adult entertainment businesses need to be more strictly regulated to protect the vitality of the surrounding neighborhoods. Jenkins, whose Southside district includes a cluster of adult businesses along Emerson Street, Philips Highway and University Boulevard, said they are not welcome in most neighborhoods.

"These communities can have hope of a future without the adult establishments being the landmark for the area," she said. "That's what holds things down and back."

Her legislation has amassed broad support on the council and won unanimous approval from two committees. Mayor John Peyton also supports it, said his spokeswoman, Susie Wiles.

If the ordinance passes, owners of adult entertainment businesses say they will mount a court challenge.

City officials have not determined how many adult entertainment businesses would be forced to move if the legislation is adopted. But Gainesville attorney Gary Edinger, who represents many of Jacksonville's adult businesses, estimates that one of the three existing nude dance clubs and one of about two dozen adult bookstores would satisfy the new zoning requirements. He would not identify which ones.

The proposed legislation would relegate the nude dancing clubs and adult bookstores to dense commercial zones along major highways. They would also have to meet minimum distance requirements already in place, such as being located 500 feet from homes and 1,000 feet from schools and churches.

Bikini bars, where the dancers wear bathing suits and alcohol can be served, would not have to relocate.

Other aspects of the legislation are similarly far-reaching.

Bikini bars would have to obtain the same business licenses as nude dance clubs and adult bookstores. In addition, all dancers in adult establishments will be required to be licensed. Currently, there is no licensing requirement for performers.

Both straight and gay clubs would be subject to the ordinance, city attorney Dylan Reingold said.

The dancer licenses would cost $100 annually and require proof of age and a fingerprint before being issued. …

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