By Paul Gable
The Horry County Ad Hoc Committee on Sexually Oriented Business Legislation meets Thursday with the probable result that committee members will forward the county’s proposed new adult entertainment ordinance to full council with recommendation for approval.
The new ordinance, written by an attorney from Tennessee who specializes in this type of ordinance, would govern the 11 adult entertainment establishments, eight strip clubs and three bookstores/novelty shops, in the unincorporated areas of the county. It would establish new setbacks and minimum distance requirements from such things as schools, churches, houses, other adult establishments and the like.
If the new ordinance is forwarded as written and council approves two more readings of it (it has passed first reading already), all 11 of the current establishments in the unincorporated county areas would be out of compliance and subject to being closed.
This does not mean there will be no adult entertainment establishments in the county because four strip clubs and two novelty shops are currently operating within city limits. Three strip clubs and the two novelty shops are located in Myrtle Beach and one strip club in Atlantic Beach. Those six adult entertainment establishments would not be affected by the new ordinance.
Three reading passage of the new ordinance doesn’t automatically mean the 11 county establishments will be closed quickly. An ordinance very similar to Horry County’s proposed ordinance, written by the same Tennessee attorney, was enacted in the suburbs of Atlanta over six years ago. A federal court case challenging the Georgia ordinance remains in litigation over six years later with the adult entertainment establishments affected operating under injunctive relief.
This looks like one where the lawyers will be happy while both sides, the 11 adult oriented clubs and other businesses as well as those who want to close them down, will have to wait years to find out who ultimately wins.
The county’s legal team, led by the Tennessee attorney, will be paid for by tax dollars from the county general fund. This means tax dollars from those residing within cities where the clubs will remain legal as well as residents in the unincorporated areas will be footing the county bill.