HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Strip clubs and sex shops aren't something you want to see in your neighborhood. Now North Myrtle Beach is stepping in to make sure they don't end up there. The City of North Myrtle Beach wants to be prepared just in case there's interest in crossing city limits and putting adult entertainment businesses inside North Myrtle.
The North Myrtle Beach City Council is showing support for new rules that put uniform regulations in place so adult entertainment businesses won't negatively affect residential areas or the city. The major focus is on the zoning, and which areas should be off limits. A business wouldn't be able to set up shop within 600 feet of a neighborhood, school or church. There also can't be groupings of adult businesses, since the ordinance says more than one cannot set up in the same lot or within 200 feet of another.
It doesn't stop with location: the measure also dictates how businesses can operate inside their doors, with rules for operating hours, even down to the lighting and position of the stage.
North Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Pat Dowling says this is city council's effort is to work ahead of any potential problems an adult business might bring.
"I want to make clear this is not an effort to keep clubs out," explained Dowling. "There are zones in the city where they are allowed, this is just an effort to make sure when and if a club is interested in setting up shop in one of those zones, that they have the specifics they need to function legally."
This ordinance has only passed one reading, so it's still a new concept for North Myrtle Beach. But it does mirror the one recently passed in Horry County. Horry County's ordinance went into effect in September. Police since then have written seven citations to different businesses for violating the current ordinance that regulates zoning and what happens inside their walls. One business, called "Inserection," even closed and the Solicitor's office is working to shut down another.
The county's changes caused Myrtle Beach to take a second look at its own ordinance. But in Myrtle Beach, the recent ordinance changes in March were more minor, and the city spokesperson Mark Kruea insists it hasn't had any problems with the way adult businesses are operating.
Now we're seeing a domino effect through the Grand Strand, with North Myrtle Beach now working on an ordinance. This is a way for city council there to make sure the city is prepared for a crackdown of its own.
"We look at it from a legal basis," said Dowling. "And adult entertainment clubs do have a right to set up shop in certain zones within our city, as they do in Horry County and Myrtle Beach, and this just provides a blueprint for them."
Horry County and Myrtle Beach show that even though an ordinance can be put in place, it's still a continuous effort to monitor businesses to make sure they stay within regulations.