Committee seeks to tighten regulations on adult businesses - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Adult entertainment legislation ready for reading

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Outdated licensing and zoning for adult entertainment venues in Horry County has lawmakers looking to tighten the reins.

The main issue with enforcing ordinances on anything you may consider an "adult business" in Horry County is the fact that the majority of laws to govern where a club can or can't go are so old they can't really be enforced.

To start putting enforcing the rules county council is going after how an adult business is zoned. And some businesses already here may be facing violations if the laws pass.

"The current code is out-of-date, easily circumvented, and not easily enforced," admits attorney Scott Bergthold.

Many of the current laws on the books in Horry County can't be enforced because the federal government actually struck them down twelve years ago.

Councilman Gary Loftus said based on today's outdated regulations there are no adult establishments in Horry County. According to Loftus, all currently operating gentleman's clubs and adult stores operate and are licensed as either a restaurant or a commercial business.

But now he hopes that's about to change. "They say they don't have adult entertainment, we go in and find out they've got adult entertainment, ok we go in and shut them down."

The proposed ordinance got a unanimous vote from members of the Infrastructure and Regulation Committee and will now move on to Horry County Council.

It declares that adult businesses are associated with crimes like prostitution and drug trafficking, and should be kept away from what they call "sensitive areas."

So what's a sensitive area? It could be a school, library, church, residential area, or even a movie theater. This ordinance states any adult business couldn't be within 1500 feet - a little over a quarter mile - from any of these.

So what's an adult business? The bill narrows the scope to any business in Horry County that gets 35 percent of its profits from the sale of pornographic books pictures or movies. It also includes any bar or nightclub that features partial nudity.

County Councilman Gary Loftus says at this point, he's unsure how Horry County Government will enforce the regulations if they pass. He says he doubts there will be an official "combat zone," or designated street like Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach. But, he says they will limit where the businesses can be.

It would also require any exotic dancer on a club's payroll be registered with Horry County, and they cannot have been convicted of prostitution in the past five years.

If these strict regulations are put into play, currently operating businesses will not be grandfathered in, and will be forced to comply.

This is problematic for business owners like Mike Rose of the Gold Club. Rose told WMBF News for nine years, his business has been licensed as a restaurant and go-go style dancing business. He says that licensing requires stricter dress codes, which he has complied with.

Rose says all clubs in the county are licensed the same way, though there may be some not adhering the rules. 

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