Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kissing Sexually Oriented Businesses Goodbye?

by Maggie Allen

In Athens, the debate continues over sexually-oriented businesses. Stiffer zoning and general business regulations were endorsed by city council and approved by the City Planning Commission. This debate was sparked by an application to open a strip club on Stimson Avenue.

The new regulations have to go through two more readings at city council meetings before they can be voted on. There will also be public hearings at council, starting next week. Although the regulations would not affect the club or other existing sexually oriented businesses in Athens, the new requirements would make it very difficult for similar businesses to open in the area.

New Requirements
-Sexually Oriented Businesses cannot be built within 1,000 ft. of church, mosque, temple, school, residential district, public park, or library
-Facility must be built with non-porous surface materials for sanitation
-Parking areas need Bright lights
-Facility must have established management station with an unobstructed view of public areas
-Employees must keep business free of sexual activity.

Council member Debbie Phillips insists that the proposed regulations are important to a lot of residents in Athens. "I've heard from a lot of folks in Athens," she said. "...property owners on Stimson are concerned about property values...We are concerned about potential secondary impacts."

Councilwoman Debbie Phillips explains why it is important to regulate sexually oriented businesses

Ann Sowers owns the only sexually oriented business currently in Athens. Located on Kern Street, Passionate Kisses sells adult movies and novelties. Sowers says that business is great, and she sees no reason to regulate something that people can get anywhere. "I think it's insane," she said of city council's proposals. "There has not been one incident here. Nothing bad happens here."

Passionate Kisses owner Ann Sowers says the proposed regulations are insane

All proposed changes to zoning regulations require a public hearing. A hearing on the sexually oriented business zoning changes and regulations will be held at the city building at 7 p.m. on April 7. Phillips says this will give Athens residents an opportunity to speak out about how the new requirements will affect them.

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