Zoning in Horry County

Horry County leaders are moving forward with new rules for adult entertainment businesses.

On Thursday, a committee of council members and staff unanimously agreed to proceed with a set of policies aimed at strengthening what officials say are outdated and ineffective regulations.

Council members gave initial approval to the ordinances in June, but delayed a second vote amid concerns about inviting litigation. The county must vote on the rules three times before they become law.

During Thursday’s committee meeting, leaders heard from Scott Bergthold, a Tennessee lawyer who specializes in drafting government rules for sexually oriented businesses.

Bergthold, who was out of town and spoke on a conference call, said that while council members can’t ban these establishments outright, they can regulate where, when and how they operate.

Under the proposed guidelines, all employees at adult businesses would have to be licensed by the county, meaning every bartender, cook and stripper would be forced to pass a background check to qualify to work.

Bergthold also said clubs and adult bookstores that fail to meet the new zoning restrictions could either change their business practices or move to an area that would permit that use.

There are nearly a dozen sexually oriented businesses in unincorporated Horry and council members said none of them meet the proposed guidelines.

Several local pastors spoke in favor of the new policies. No one from the industry addressed the council.

This issue was thrust into the spotlight when a local club sued the county.

The lawsuit, filed April 3 in federal court, stems from the county’s refusal to issue a business license to MJJG Restaurant LLC, which wants to open a nightclub in the Kings Highway building that once housed Thee Dollhouse.

The business owner plans to operate an establishment called The Gold Club and offer “constitutionally protected dance performances to its patrons,” according to the lawsuit.

In November, the owner applied for a business license but was denied by the county’s zoning department. County officials continued to turn down the business owner, saying the club would be an adult entertainment establishment and the property wasn’t zoned for that use.

The business owner took his case to the county’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA), but was unsuccessful.

Council members are scheduled to vote on the new policies at their Aug. 13 meeting. A public hearing and final vote are set to take place on Sept. 3.

 

via My Horry News

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