HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Two proposed laws that have proved to be controversial were up for their final vote in Horry County, and both passed their third readings before the county council.
There were two ordinances up for discussion - one regarding adult business zoning regulations, the second regarding adult business conduct regulations. Businesses that currently operate with partially nude entertainers will have to either move locations or make the entertainers wear more clothing since these ordinances have now passed.
"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," The 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
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 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.
TUNE IN TO WMBF NEWS AT 11 FOR A COMPLETE RECAP OF TUESDAY NIGHT'S COUNCIL MEETING, AND WHAT COUNCIL MEMBERS DECIDED.
WMBF News pulled statistics from the Myrtle Beach Police Department. Statistics showed police have responded to both 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 can'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 would 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 1500 feet of a school, church, residence, daycare or park. Add to that, one adult entertainment business can not 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 $200,00-$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)."