HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A federal court judge has denied the temporary restraining order against Horry County newest ordinances restricting adult businesses.
The request for the temporary restraining order was filed by Mike Rose, owner of the Gold Club.
Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for Horry County, confirms, "Yesterday, the federal court denied The Gold Club's motion for temporary restraining order. The Court's ruling allows the County to implement the newly enacted ordinances in due course. The County will, of course, continue to adhere to the legal process while vigorously defending its ordinances."
The two ordinances that Mr. Rose was filing against concern adult business zoning regulations and conduct.
In a third reading on Tuesday, September 3, Horry County Council passed both ordinances with a 9-2 vote.
"Even if we were wanting to have an adult permit and move into an adult location we feel that the new ordinance is too restraining, and we believe it's unconstitutional," Gold Club owner Mike Rose said.
One part of the ordinance says there is convincing documented evidence that adult entertainment establishments have deleterious secondary effects and are often associated with crime and adverse effects on surrounding properties.
Rose, who also owns a non-adult entertainment nightclub establishment in Myrtle Beach said crime is going to happen at any location that sells alcohol.
"There's probably ten times the crime at my mainstream club and clubs in the area than there are that are occurring as a whole in my gentlemen's club or others within the city and county," Rose said.
WMBF News Reporter Monique Blair joined hundreds of Horry County residents crowding into council chambers on Tuesday, Sept. 3. The room was so crowded, the overflow space was picking up a few visitors.
At least seven people chose to speak about adult businesses during the public comment section.
The Gold Club Owner, Michael Rose was one of those people who spoke against the two laws.
"I moved to Myrtle Beach 13 years ago to pursue a dream I know this dream may be a bit different than yours. I'm also aware that my business may be not of your choice to visit," Rose said, "Our business is filled with real people just like yourselves. They work hard and make sacrifices in order to achieve their dreams and support their families."
The owner of another gentlemen's club, Bottom's Up also spoke.
"It's our constitutional right to be here and we're gonna be here," the owner said(his name was not immediately available).
Others spoke in favor of the proposed laws.
"I understand golfers come here. I play golf too but I'd like to think this is a place for families," one man said during public comment.
"We're putting our hope of our future in this county in your hands," Pastor Darren Squires said.
Other stood up and publicly told council they agreed with the importance of stricter rules for adult entertainment, but had concerns regarding the way the proposed laws were written.
"The sad part is when the courts throw this out you're gonna be stuck with some of these clubs in the new locations," one man said.
"I just don't want to get sued and have to pay money out of my pocket for what goes on here tonight," another concerned citizen said.
Councilman Harold Worley proposed a motion to defer the vote and form another committee that would include owners of adult businesses. Councilman Schwartzkop seconded the motion "enthusiastically."
Council Chairman Mark Lazarus then suggested that they address the conduct law but could wait to make a decision on the zoning law. Horry County's Attorney Arrigo Carrotti said that would have a devastating effect because adult entertainment businesses could then operate anywhere.
After much debate, council members voted against Councilman Worley's motion to defer the final vote on these proposed ordinances.
The Horry County Council passed the zoning law regarding adult businesses and the conduct/licensing law, both with a 9-2 vote.
Rose told WMBF News Wednesday that his attorney filed and emergency temporary restraining order first thing Wednesday morning in Florence Federal Court. Rose said a judge will hear the case Friday and then make a decision whether or not to grant the restraining order. If a judge rules in Rose's favor, Rose will be able to run his business as is right now until further notice.
WMBF News pulled statistics from the Myrtle Beach Police Department. Statistics showed police have responded to strip clubs, nightclubs and bars in 2013 for violent crimes such as armed robbery, assault and fights. Statistics showed police also responded to several other various types of locations around the city for the same type of crimes.
Rose is suing the county because it denied him a permit to open a restaurant nightclub with female entertainers along Restaurant Row.
County council said it couldn't fight the lawsuit against Rose with the current laws that are in place. The county does have current regulations pertaining to adult businesses but those laws have a history of not holding up when challenged in federal court. The federal court has ruled the current regulations aren't constitutional.
The new laws restrict things like where an adult entertainment business could operate, what the entertainers could wear and the hours the establishment could operate. The news laws state all adult entertainment businesses must not sit within 1,500 feet of a school, church, residence, daycare or park. Add to that, one adult entertainment business cannot be within 750 feet of another business of the same type.
Rose said he will not move his business, instead he'll comply with the new laws and his entertainers will wear more clothing.
"We don't have to move if it passes a third reading. A lot of people think that we'll have to move to a new location. We don't have to. If we come into compliance with the new ordinance which is to put more cover up on the entertainers then we will be perfectly fine in the locations that we're at," Rose said.
Rose said he has offered to withdraw the lawsuit against the county, if the county will sit down and discuss the ordinances and come to a conclusion that would make everyone happy.
"Save all the taxpayers any money in legal fees as well as any damages that may have to be paid if we prevail in federal court if the county would sit down with us and create an ordinance that's good for us and good for the county and good for the citizens, but so far they've been unwilling to do that," Rose said.
Councilman Loftus said Rose's compromise didn't work for the county.
There are various parcels in the unincorporated areas of Horry County that are zoned appropriate to where, in the new laws, an adult business can operate- Highway Commercial, Limited Industrial and Highway Industrial. Of those parcels, although zoned to allow adult entertainment businesses- many of them have additional restrictions that wouldn't allow this type of business.
"The only problem with that use is it's either deed restricted for adult use or the owner of the property restricts the ability to have adult entertainment so while the county might say hey we're opening up the area for these types of locations to go and get an adult permit, there's a lot of restrictions and really there's not a lot of space, and that of itself is unconstitutional," Rose said.
Loftus said the county ensures there are spots available for adult businesses to move into that are not restricted. The exact number of parcels available to potential adult entertainment business owners has not been made available.
Rose said his lawsuit with the county will cost him anywhere from $200,000 to $300,000. Bourcier explained via email the total cost on the county's end regarding this litigation and comprehensive ordinance development. The email reads as follows:
"As of August 14, 2013, we have paid attorney Bergthold $3,389.10. However, two invoices totaling $34,092.55 ($17,258.13 + $17,644.12) were sent to finance on August 16 to be paid, a portion of which will be reimbursed by our insurance with the Insurance Reserve Fund. This billing covered consultation regarding the Gold Club appeal to the ZBA, the County's defense in the federal court Gold Club litigation, and comprehensive ordinance development (zoning and licensing)."
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