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Commissioner doubts more sex restrictions will be enacted

May 08, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - One Jefferson County Commissioner expressed doubts that the commission can approve any stricter regulations regarding sexually oriented businesses than the ones already passed.

Commissioner James G. Knode was referring to proposed regulations that Jefferson County resident Lavarr McBride wants to see implemented in the county.

In addition to stricter zoning regulations for sexually oriented businesses like strip clubs, McBride has said he wants the county to consider a broad range of other regulations, such as those that call for the county to license adult businesses.

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Under McBride's proposal, a license for an adult business could be denied for a variety of reasons, including whether the applicant falsely answered a question in the application process or it was determined the person has been convicted of a sex crime like prostitution, distribution of harmful material to a minor, possession of child pornography and a list of other crimes.

Knode said he has studied McBride's proposal but he does not see where the state gives counties the authority to implement such requirements.

"I was not convinced, but someone else may be," Knode said.

Lawyers in the Jefferson County Prosecutor's office are expected to review state laws to determine if the commissioners can pass requirements like the ones McBride is proposing.

McBride said Tuesday it is clear in state law that counties have the ability to license sexually oriented businesses. The authority is the same as licenses that are given to businesses that sell alcohol, McBride said.

McBride said his proposals have been successfully tested "all the way up to the Supreme Court. I think it's just a lack of understanding."

Last Thursday, the commission passed a recommendation from the Jefferson County Planning Commission that outlines strict land-use regulations for adult businesses.

Under the new ordinance, adult businesses would be limited to about one square mile of land divided among four areas in the county.

The new law also requires that sexually oriented businesses be 1,500 feet from homes, churches or schools.

McBride wants the county to pass more regulations on adult businesses, such as prohibiting nude employees at such businesses from touching patrons or serving alcohol.

In addition to the new zoning laws affecting adult businesses that were passed last Thursday, two commissioners - Jane Tabb and Rusty Morgan - agreed to serve on a committee with some planning commission members who are studying the possibility of passing regulations like the ones McBride is proposing.

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