A citizens' group wants Rockdale County to conduct an inspection to determine whether Starship, a store that sells adult materials and novelties, on Ga. Highway 138, is in compliance with zoning regulations and ordinances.
“We’re requesting a full independent sales audit of the store to ensure they’re not selling more than 20 percent pornography,” said Walter Menzies, president of the Citizens for Protecting Our Children, at the public comments portion of the Board of Commissioners meeting today. “If they’re found to be not in compliance with the zoning regulation, they be shut down immediately and be required to apply for a license as an adult entertainment business.”
The store is currently classified as a novelty store and can operate in commercial zoning but would have to apply as an adult media store and operate in a manufacturing zoning area if it sold 20 percent or more of its inventory as adult material.
Menzies submitted a report drawn up by himself and Robert Patterson, whom Menzies described as a consultant in helping communities deal with the adult entertainment industry.
The report describes what Patterson found when he visited the store on Sept. 9 and 10.
“When I entered the store, I was immediately taken aback and could easily view this business was not in compliance using reasonable judgment classifying adult merchandise,” wrote Patterson.
“In our opinion, it appears they’re improperly designating sales,” said Menzies.
Store owner Kelly Rogers pointed out only certain inventory qualifies as adult, though there may be many gray areas. “We’re constantly monitoring inventory levels every month,” said Rogers. “Just to walk into a store with your naked eye you can make assumptions, but only certain things classify as adult.”
“Back when we opened, we met with the county and went over everything to make sure we’re in compliance,” said Rogers.
“If something’s not sold at a conventional store like Walmart or Target, it would go over the line into adult material,” contends Menzies.
There are currently about 22 Starship stores in Georgia and one in Tennessee.
The Conyers store does an average amount of business, said Rogers, with about 300 transactions a day.
The Citizens for Protecting Our Children is made of several churches, said Menzies, including Greater Grace Church where he is pastor. The group existed before the Starship store came to Conyers about five years ago and was involved in protesting the Teen Plus center and preventing another adult materials store from opening on Ga. Highway 20.
“There’s also 300 families within 1000 feet of that store. And two churches within 1000 feet. They completely should not be here," Menzies said.
“We’d like to see the store go somewhere else, or go to the correct zoning."