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Morgan county considers exotic entertainment law

July 30, 2004|by RYAN NICHOLSON/Staff Correspondent

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Morgan County Planning Commission this week approved a draft of an exotic entertainment ordinance that will be passed on to the county's legal panel and then submitted to the Morgan County Commission for final discussion and approval.

The West Virginia Legislature recently granted counties the authority to deal with the location of exotic entertainment businesses. Counties now may place restrictions on exotic entertainment.

"Before the state did this, the counties had no authority," said Jack Soronen, president of the planning commission.

The proposed ordinance calls for any business offering live adult entertainment to be more than 2,000 feet from schools, churches, family restaurants or businesses, hotels, motels, campgrounds, bed and breakfasts, day-care facilities, public parks or recreational areas, businesses with an alcoholic business license or any other exotic entertainment business.

In addition, the proposal states that an exotic entertainment business must be more than 1,000 feet from any residence and the business owner must pay a $500 application fee.

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The commission also hoped to regulate exotic bookstores, but found out that they won't be able to do so, officials said during a meeting Tuesday.

"The state Legislature empowered counties to regulate exotic entertainment and the definition of exotic entertainment was someone live and in the nude," Planning Commission Vice President Daryl Cowles said.

According to Soronen, Morgan County planners saw the controversy generated in Jefferson and Berkeley counties over strip bars and wanted to enact an ordinance before they were faced with a request to approve a building permit for a strip bar.

"By pursing this ordinance, the planning commission wants to be proactive about avoiding possible problems and conflict in the future," Soronen said.

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