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Berkeley County changes parts of adult-oriented business law

November 19, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Several changes were made Thursday to Berkeley County's ordinance that deals with the permissible locations of adult-oriented businesses, including a paragraph about what will happen should such a business lose its license to operate and/or sell alcohol.

The changes were proposed by Alecia Knupp, of Inwood, W.Va., who has been a vocal opponent of Slightly Sinful, an adult store that opened over the summer near Bunker Hill Elementary School.

The Berkeley County Commission and its attorney, Norwood Bentley, agreed to all of the changes except one.

Knupp proposed adding a paragraph that read: "In the event of a suspension or revocation of the business or liquor license of an exotic entertainment business, the building or structure in which the business is housed shall become subject to the provisions of this ordinance."

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The commissioners objected to making a business comply with the ordinance should its license simply be suspended, but left in the rest of the paragraph.

The ordinance, which first was adopted in August, controls the location of adult movie theaters, video or bookstores, strip clubs, adult novelty stores and nightclubs or bars that feature nude or semi-nude dancers.

Such businesses are prohibited from opening within 2,000 feet of churches, schools, houses, day-care facilities, public parks or recreational facilities, hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments. Adult-oriented businesses also must be 2,000 feet apart from one another.

Another change concerned the size of enlargements allowed for adult-oriented businesses. The original version of the ordinance said such a business could increase in size by 25 percent, but Knupp proposed reducing that figure to 15 percent.

The commissioners agreed to make that change.

Bentley reaffirmed his belief that the ordinance would not survive if a lawsuit were filed challenging it.

"This is not going to pass court muster the way it is already," Bentley said as Knupp started to explain the proposed changes. Bentley later agreed with Knupp that the ordinance may hold up with regard to businesses that feature live entertainment, since the state allows counties to control them.

The state, however, has not given counties any specific means to control other adult-oriented businesses, he said.

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