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Victoria County residents want restrictions on erotic video shop

By Brian Cuaron
Oct. 17, 2011 at 5:17 a.m.
Updated Oct. 18, 2011 at 5:18 a.m.

The Movies To Go video store has caused an uproar among some in Victoria County's Lakeview subdivision. When 12 citizens visited the commissioners court Monday, they mentioned signs that advertised adult movies.

COUNTY CUTS ELECTRIC BILL

Victoria County again took advantage of falling natural-gas prices by purchasing electricity for smaller blocks of time, said Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Janak, who headed the effort. It will save about $35,000 under a 16-month contract it approved on Monday for 2014-15.

From 2005 to 2008, the cost of natural gas for electricity ranged from $8.23 to $9.13 per million British thermal units, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (A BTU is about the amount of energy in a match, said Jonathan Cogan, energy information specialist for the administration.) However, natural gas plummeted to $4.73 per million BTUs in 2009 and is now $4.62 per million BTUs.

Below are the rates the county has paid - or will pay - for electricity and the actual amount paid, if available:

2009

Rate: 8.326 cents per kilowatt hour

Year's electric cost: $1.65 million

2010

Rate: 7 cents per kilowatt hour

Year's electric cost: $949,455

2011-12

Rate: 6.71 cents per kilowatt hour

2013

Rate: 6.21 cents per kilowatt hour

2014-15

Rate: 5.85 cents per kilowatt hour

Victoria County residents want restrictions on an adult-video shop near their homes, but the owner says that sex isn't what she is all about.

"I'm a movie shop that rents X-rated movies out," said Carole Luster, owner of Movies To Go near Farm-to-Market Road 236 and Timberline Drive.

She advertises her shop via a large sign on the intersection with the store's title on top. In smaller, though noticeable, letters below, she describes her wares: family & adult X movies."

Residents across from Luster, in the Lakeview subdivision, mentioned such signs when they protested to the court on Monday.

"You can't sell porn from across a neighborhood," said Debra Stewart, describing people's reactions to signs advertising adult films, along with Luster's G-rated ones. "We all thought that."

However, Stewart discovered that the county had no restrictions on the placement of businesses that sell erotica near neighborhoods.

She and 11 other residents asked the court to explore how it may protect the public welfare. Stewart, who was the only one from the group to speak, said after the meeting that she wanted restrictions on such businesses.

However, Luster's video shop does much more than rent-out or sell more than 1,000 adult films. Only 30 percent of her two-month-old shop's proceeds come from adult videos, she said. The rest comes via her regular films and a Halloween-costume shop that she has operated for 10 years on her property.

A 14-year resident of her home, where her shop is located in a trailer, Luster said she has lived in the area longer than those from Lakeview. She pointed out that other businesses line the road, and that none protested former video shops' porn.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Gary Burns has investigated the issue, filling a folder with ordinances regulating such businesses elsewhere.

He said the county could restrict the distances between sexual businesses and certain activities, such as churches, schools, day cares, playgrounds and neighborhoods. The county could also limit the proximity of such businesses to one another.

Another step is to force such businesses to purchase licenses, Burns said.

"I don't like government intervening in business, period," said Burns, "but we need to determine if it's needed in this instance."

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor and Chief Deputy Terry Simons have expressed concern about future sexually-oriented businesses, Burns said. He explained that with the growth of the city and county, that Victoria must prepare for the infusion of such businesses.

However, Luster's clientele includes children and families drawn by home movies and trick-or-treat costumes. She said those who purchase porn include oil workers, couples, teachers, ranchers and their wives.

Some have credited the videos with helping their marriage, Luster said.

Burns wanted a public hearing on the issue with the county's attorneys. Any such ordinance wouldn't apply to the city of Victoria.

Judge Don Pozzi told Stewart that the county would inform her in 30 days what action, if any, it would take.

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