Gainesville City Council meeting
What: First reading of new adult entertainment ordinance
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Room A, Georgia Mountains Center, 301 Main St., Gainesville
The Gainesville City Council will have its first public reading of a new adult entertainment ordinance Tuesday, and workers from the city's only such business, The Top of Gainesville, plan to be there.
When The Top of Gainesville, located off Atlanta Highway, asked the city to approve a new partner months ago, city attorneys found the current ordinance was outdated, City Manager Kip Padgett said.
City officials sought to change the ordinance to clear up ambiguity and decided they needed to make other extensive modifications to make it more legally defensible.
Under the new ordinance, employees would have to submit to a criminal history check once per year, and the business must submit a list of its current employees to the city each month. Those employees would apply for a $50 permit to work in the establishment annually. Currently, a dancer's permit does not expire.
"Requiring a work permit is a good thing, and I think what the city says is right, so we can get a better background on the dancer," said Raj Patel, The Top of Gainesville's manager, who pledged to be at Tuesday's meeting. "As a business, we're not comfortable hiding somebody, and we want to look after the people who come here. Checking backgrounds will lead to better business, and I'm for it."
The new ordinance also would require all future adult entertainment businesses to apply for a new alcohol license should the adult dancing establishment have any changes in ownership or partners.
For years, adult entertainment businesses have not been permitted to serve alcohol. The Top of Gainesville has been able to continue serving alcohol because it held an alcoholic beverage license before the current ordinance was enacted.
"Whatever the city says, we'll be in compliance with," Patel said, declining to comment on how the alcohol change might affect the club. "We have to follow that ordinance."
Adult entertainment businesses include dancing establishments; stores that sell books, magazines or videotapes depicting sexual activities; and theaters or arcades that show films of a sexual nature.
Such businesses are protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but can be regulated by local and state officials as long as the regulations are "content neutral."
The proposed rules require adult businesses to have bright interior lights, prohibit use of private rooms and mandate that dancers perform on a pedestal that is raised 2 feet off the ground, making it easier for police to spot illegal activity.
Council members studied possible negative secondary effects of adult entertainment businesses, including crime, the spread of communicable diseases, diminished property values and blight in the communities where they are located.
The new ordinance acknowledges the reports and documents presented to the council, including a section that outlines adverse conditions that come with the businesses, such as "unlawful and unhealthy activities that can be uncontrolled or inadequately controlled by the operators of the establishments."
Council members said little in Thursday's work session and agreed to move the ordinance forward to the initial reading Tuesday and final vote Sept. 21.
Council member Myrtle Figueras said she "learned lots of stuff" from the readings, and Mayor Ruth Burner said the packet "gave very thorough information."
"I agree with the ordinance changes because, for one, it's stricter," Councilman George Wangemann said. "Also, it's more legally defensible for the city. I'm going to concur with this."