Planners approve 6-month hold on adult businesses

The Jefferson County Planning Commission says the move will give members time to develop new regulations on adult entertainment

The Jefferson County Planning Commission says the move will give members time to develop new regulations on adult entertainment

November 08, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - After about 80 people showed up at a public hearing Thursday night to rail against what some called the "filthy and disgusting" adult entertainment business, Jefferson County Planning Commission members recommended that any new adult businesses be halted in the county for six months.

The recommended stay on any new adult entertainment businesses will give the planning commission six months to develop new regulations on such businesses, officials said.

The recommendation for the six-month stay will be made to the Jefferson County Commission, which has the final say on the issue, said Stephen R. Bockmiller, the county's chief planner.


Bockmiller said he hopes to present the recommendation to the commissioners next week.

Rather than limiting such businesses to one area of the county, local minister Ray Love told the planning commission Thursday night he wanted them banned.

"They add nothing to the community. They detract from the community," said Love, pastor of Tri-State Baptist Church in Charles Town.

Mark Osbourn, principal of Shipley Elementary School, said he was surprised to learn after researching the county's land-use laws that strip clubs could be located next to churches or schools.

Another speaker said adult entertainment is just a title for something that is "filthy and disgusting."

The public hearing at the Jefferson County Courthouse was scheduled after more than 50 people showed up at a county commission meeting in September to express concerns over a rumor that a strip club was going to open in a building along U.S. 340 near Shipley Elementary School between Charles Town and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Members of the group vowed to fight any strip club in the area, even though Commissioner Jane Tabb read a letter from the owner of the property saying there were no plans for a strip club on the property.

The owners of the property later confirmed in a telephone interview there were no plans to put a strip club on the land.

Regardless of the property owner's statements, those who went to the commissioners meeting in September vowed to fight any attempt to put a strip club on the property.

Because exotic dance clubs are not regulated in Jefferson County's land-use laws, the commissioners directed the planning commission to hold a public hearing to gather public input on the proposed stay.

In addition to recommending the six-month stay, planning commission members also recommended Thursday night that the county commission include in the county's land use laws definitions for adult businesses.

Before such businesses can be regulated, they have to be defined, Bockmiller said.

The definitions were for adult arcades, adult bookstores, adult cabarets, adult mini motion picture theaters, adult saunas, adult theaters and sexual paraphernalia stores.

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