Sunday, March 23, 2003

Adult business ordinance barred



The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - A federal judge has ruled that Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government's ordinance restricting the location and operation of strip clubs and adult novelty stores amounts to a prior restraint of free speech.

U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III on Friday barred metro government from enforcing its adult-entertainment ordinance. Simpson indicated he might throw it out entirely because it is unconstitutional.

Simpson said the ordinance also fails to set a time limit for approving or denying a license application, potentially leaving applicants in a "legal limbo."

Bill O'Brien, head of County Attorney Irv Maze's civil division, said Simpson's ruling "greatly opens up where (adult businesses) can operate."

The injunction prohibits the metro government from restricting adult businesses from locating within 500 feet of residentially zoned land, churches, schools, parks or any other adult establishment.

Also blocked are requirements that adult businesses pay a $1,000 annual license fee, employees pay a $25 license fee and owners and operators disclose information about themselves and their business.

And performers won't have to stay at least 6 feet from patrons.

Mike Hatzell, attorney for two adult book and video stores that challenged the ordinance, was elated. Metro officials "can no longer use this bogus ordinance to prosecute" legitimate businesses, he said.

The metro government is considering an appeal.

"We don't want these (adult) businesses in residential areas," said Metro Council President Ron Weston, D-13th District.

Jefferson County attorneys said the government still has a variety of criminal statutes, alcoholic-beverage-control measures and building and health regulations they can use to rein in adult businesses.




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