Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Plans Zone for Adult Shops Targeting Businesses Has Drawn Legal Fights

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Plans Zone for Adult Shops Targeting Businesses Has Drawn Legal Fights

Article excerpt

Byline: David DeCamp, Times-Union staff writer

Jacksonville officials are preparing a new law that, combined with another proposal, would tighten government scrutiny on adult-oriented businesses and force them away from residential areas.

The proposed ordinances would push adult businesses -- such as nude dancing clubs, bikini bars and erotic movie rental stores -- onto the city's industrially zoned land.

But the bills could renew court fights with business owners and trigger a dispute over moving the businesses to the Northside, where a large amount of industrial land is located.

"This industry is not easy to regulate, either politically or legally," said Karl Sanders, an assistant general counsel at City Hall who is writing the proposed new rules. "It's a fine line to walk to draft legislation that's not only constitutional but effective."

Last June, Mayor John Delaney filed a bill that would require adult entertainment businesses to move to sites zoned for heavy industry and keep as much as a half-mile between themselves and churches, schools and homes.

The proposal came after a federal judge ended a city moratorium on licensing new adult businesses, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to allow the city to force lingerie shops to get special exceptions to operate. In another ruling, however, the high court gave communities more authority to clamp down on nude dancing, helping spawn the recent efforts.

"The city, as usual, seems to be taking a fairly aggressive approach, which is part of the reason it gets into court trouble," said Gainesville attorney Gary Edinger, who represents owners of Jacksonville adult businesses.

Delaney's bill, however, has remained on hold in the City Council's Land Use and Zoning Committee while the second ordinance -- which would broaden the definition of adult businesses -- is being written. The second ordinance could be sent to the City Council within two months, Sanders said. The General Counsel's Office is researching some remaining issues, such as whether nude dancing clubs can be banned outright.

Now, nude dancing clubs, which can't sell alcohol, are required to be licensed, but city code does not force bikini bars -- which do sell booze -- and shops that rent adult films to become licensed. …

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