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W.Va. county OKs 6-month ban on adult businesses

Large numbers of county residents had voiced strong oppostion to new strip clubs and similar establishments opening in Jefferson

Large numbers of county residents had voiced strong oppostion to new strip clubs and similar establishments opening in Jefferson

November 15, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLESTOWN, W.Va. - Despite an objection by one commissioner who said the county cannot regulate morality, the Jefferson County Commission on Thursday approved a six-month ban on any new adult businesses in the county.

The ban, which does not extend to municipalities, was approved to give the Jefferson County Planning Commission time to develop regulations for strip bars and other similar businesses in the county.

The ban was approved following two public meetings since September in which large numbers of county residents voiced strong opposition to new strip clubs and other similar establishments opening in the county.

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The outpouring of opposition against adult entertainment started after a rumor spread through the county in September that a strip club was going to be located in a building along U.S. 340 near Shipley Elementary School.

Despite support from some of the opponents that such businesses should be banned, Commissioner Dean Hockensmith said Thursday it's an area the commissioners should not be getting into.

"I don't think you can regulate morality. There are places for these. You don't have to go if you don't want to go," said Hockensmith, the only commissioner to vote against the six-month ban.

"This is just another ploy to stop a business," said Hockensmith, a small business owner.

The commissioners who voted for the ban were Al Hooper, James G. Knode, James K. Ruland and Jane Tabb.

The other commissioners discussed various parts of the ban to clarify information in it.

Strip clubs can be located in the county's commercial and industrial zones or the mixed zone that allows commercial and residential development.

The commercial and industrial zone is located in the county's two industrial parks and some quarry property in the Millville area. The mixed zone is scattered throughout the county, county officials said.

Beyond those laws, there is not much regulation of adult entertainment businesses in what they can offer, how they can advertise or where they can be located, said Stephen R. Bockmiller, the county's chief planner.

There are a number of ways the planning commission can address the issue, including possibly using a new state law that puts the task of regulating sexually oriented businesses in the hands of county commissions, Bockmiller said.

"We haven't got to the point of starting to look at it," Bockmiller said Thursday.

Any proposed new regulations developed by the planning commission would be sent to the commissioners, who have final say on the issue, Bockmiller said.

The commission can adopt any new regulations, send them back to the planning commission with recommended changes or reject them, county officials said.

The planning commission will have a public hearing on any regulations they develop, Bockmiller said.

The county commission could also choose to have a public hearing when they consider new regulations, Knode said.

Jefferson County currently has two strip clubs, while neighboring Berkeley County has eight.




How they voted



The Jefferson County Commission approved 4-1 Thursday a six-month ban on any new adult businesses in the county. The ban does not apply to municipalities in the county.

Yes: Hooper, Knode, Ruland, Tabb.

No: Hockensmith.

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