John Neslon Darby
Washington County Adult Entertainment Board discusses definition of "adult"
By CHELSEA SHOUN
JONESBOROUGH - Washington County's Adult Entertainment Board is in limbo, waiting for eight applicants to provide information necessary to complete the application process. But the board did discuss methods to determine just what classifies a business as "adult oriented" at a meeting Monday night. Ultimately, the board decided to take several factors into account including revenues, police investigations and complaints from the community at large.
Board members plan to initiate investigations based on complaints and using information from the sheriff's office. Suspected adult businesses will then be given the chance to show evidence to the contrary. If a dispute still exists and businesses won't comply with the county's law, the matter will be left up to a judge. "We cannot ignore the complaint system. That needs to be our bread and butter, so to speak, so we don't come off as a witch-hunt board," said Jeff Turner, a member of the board charged with regulating adult entertainment in the county. In 1998, Tennessee gave localities the option of regulating adult-oriented establishments by requiring businesses to obtain operating licenses, employee permits and other measures.
The Washington County Commission voted to enforce the regulations in October 2000. Budget limitations and the question of what county department would be responsible for coordinating the policy prevented enforcement until November 2001, when the Adult Entertainment Board started work. So far, the board has received nine applications. It received six before the application deadline from employees of the Mouse's Ear Exotic Sports Bar in Gray, but those applicants requested their applications be returned. Eight of the current applications are from employees of The Oasis, a club in Johnson City. But the applicants haven't made appointments with the Washington County Sheriff's Department for fingerprinting.
The ninth application is from an employee of the Fuzzy Hole in Johnson City. But the board hasn't received an application from the establishment for an operating license and decided not to consider the application for 30 days to give the business time to file an application. However, the Fuzzy Hole is not located in a properly zoned area of the city, and county leaders must leave it up to the city to take action. "I had assumed it would be left up to the city to close the business because they're not in the proper zone," said Roy McLain, chairman of the adult board. "But according to the law, we can't deny them," he said, adding that the county must consider an application if one is filed, regardless of what action the city takes.
Copyright May 6, 2002 Kingsport Times-News
Update for 2008: all appeals have failed and the local laws have been upheld.
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