By Paul Gable
The first salvo from the adult entertainment industry was launched just hours after a Horry County Council Ad Hoc Committee voted Thursday to go forward with new ordinances governing the time, place and manner of adult entertainment operations.
Todd Martin, corporate spokesperson for Airport Express Video, LLC sent a press release by e-mail to all members of county council as well as many media outlets.
The press release outlines Airport Express Video’s meetings with county staff, its business license history and other interactions with the county. It also explains why Airport Express Video believes the new county ordinances to be unconstitutional and asks some interesting questions about other types of businesses.
This is going to be a long and protracted battle between the county and the adult entertainment industry. In the end, strip clubs, video shops, bookstores and novelty shops will still be open in cities within the county and, possibly, in the unincorporated areas as well. The new ordinances only apply to the unincorporated areas of the county.
The Airport Express Video press release:
From: Todd Martin
AIRPORT EXPRESS VIDEO, L.L.C.
To: All Media Outlets
Date: August 1, 2013
Re: Horry County Adult Entertainment Workshop & Ordinance Proposal
It is, and always has been the position of Airport Express Video that upon applying for our business license and zoning compliance documents in 2005, we were truthful and told both the Zoning Department and Business License Department that we were applying to be a video, magazine and novelty store which would sell both adult and non-adult merchandise. In 2006 we were visited by Roland Meyers (the then Director of Planning and Zoning) who advised that he believed we did not possess the required business license to operate. As a result of that visit and that claim, a meeting was subsequently held during the summer of 2006 with Meyer, County Attorney John Weaver, a representative of the Business License Division, Janet Carter, our attorney and owner. During that meeting it was completely briefed, clarified and explained to the satisfaction of all in attendance that a.) We always had a proper and current business license for our operation; b.) That all County Staff was completely aware that we had viewing rooms; and c.) Subsequently an amended Certificate of Zoning Compliance was issued indicating “Video Store, Retail – Novelties, Magazines. Preview Rooms – No Glory Holes or Peep Holes allowed.”
Since that time Horry County has re-issued our business license annually for the past seven years. Since opening day of our operation we have never been in violation of any county law or ordinance, and we continue to operate under those same condition and precedents
It is our position that the currently proposed ordinance, if approved and implemented, would effectively alter our currently licensed and allowed operations, and additionally, we contend that as the current proposal pertains to video, magazine and novelty stores, it is wholly unconstitutional due to the following:
1. The courts in our state and federal judicial circuit have yet to determine what specific items are adult or non-adult, as would be required on an item by item basis as required by the United States Supreme Court’s holdings in Miller v. California,
2. Horry County has never undertaken the required studies to determine what the specific, local and residential/business deleterious secondary effects (if any) created by our and other similar businesses would be, and
3. That as a store which sells specific items which are explicitly protected under the First Amendment we are afforded even more and/or additional protections as compared to what protections a topless club would enjoy, due to the printed and visual depiction protections which we enjoy.
While we fully and completely respect the vast rights of our citizens and those of our religious brethren – we caution that the same inalienable rights which The Socastee Free Will Baptist Church enjoys – whereby allowing it to its interpretations of the bible and it’s free speech, we so too enjoy those very same protections.
In summation, while assumedly they would not fall under the “space requirement” portion of the newly proposed ordinance, would the County also propose to license employees in stores such as Wal Mart, K-Mart and Kroger – as they too sell items such as “lubricants, condoms, and oils” and “any device which may be used to sexually stimulate the human body” (the latter class which could possibly include items such as bananas and cucumbers).
Airport Express Video contends that it is a fully licensed and legal operation TODAY and if Horry County sees fit to not exclude our business from its current proposal and instead seeks to enforce the items discussed above, we are standing by with federal legal counsel to undertake a surely costly and protracted legal battle with them. Prior to today’s workshop meeting we met with several councilmen at our store and each and every one stated they weren’t even aware “at that time” that these changes affected us. We feel that our business is being improperly “lumped-in” with others of a different nature.
s/ Todd Martin (e-signature 08-01-13)