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County restricts adult entertainment
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Newton County commissioners confirmed their desire to strictly regulate adult entertainment by unanimously passing an updated ordinance Tuesday.

The county has recently received inquiries about adult entertainment businesses including one request for a "gentleman's club", but it's no easy task to locate such a business in the county. The county does not have any adult entertainment business currently, said county attorney Jenny Carter.

The county can't outright prohibit adult entertainment businesses, because that would be a violation of free speech and expression, but it can put numerous restrictions on them.

Adult entertainment businesses can only be located in industrial zonings, either light or heavy, and only with a conditional-use permit approved by the board of commissioners, said county Zoning Administrator Branin Burdette.

They must be located further than 1,000 feet from any residential parcel, day care center, school, place of worship, library, recreational facility, government building or civic center. Adult entertainment businesses cannot sell alcohol and cannot be located closer than 2,500 to any business that does sell alcohol.

Furthermore, prospective owners must qualify and pay for a business license and a separate adult entertainment license, and they and their employees must pass extensive background tests.

The board is expected to see the fee for the adult entertainment license at an upcoming meeting, said Scott Sirotkin, director of developmental services. Sirotkin said his office received one inquiry for a gentleman's club, but no one has recently applied for an adult entertainment business license.

The ordinance prohibits caressing, lap dances, private rooms and very low lighting.

All of those restrictions were included in the previous 1993 ordinance; however, some legal wording changes had to be made, said Carter. The most significant changes further limits potential hours of operation to 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Businesses used to be able to be open from 8 a.m. to 2:55 a.m.

In addition, businesses are now required to hire a security guard to patrol the outside of the building. Also, adult entertainment business cannot be located any closer than 2,500 feet to each other. Both adult bookstores and adult entertainment are included in the ordinance.