Victoria County may restrict sexually oriented businesses

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 2, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated April 2, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.

Victoria County Commissioners plan to proceed with an ordinance to regulate sexually oriented businesses.

Jim Allison, general counsel for The County Judges' and Commissioners' Association of Texas, presented two potential ordinances to commissioners during Monday's meeting.

"What we're looking at with sexually oriented businesses is what can we do to further regulate and ensure these businesses do not have a negative effect on our community," Allison said.

He said the catch was knowing the difference between protecting people from themselves and their goal to protect the community from negative impacts, such as decreased property values or criminal activity.

The issue came up in October when residents near Farm-to-Market Road 236 and Timberline Drive became concerned over a movie rental business that started stocking adult films.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the court needs to continue studying the statutes and hearing residents' concerns before making a final decision.

"Do we want to pass an ordinance and what regulations do we want in it?" he asked. "The concerns range from banning everything to regulating as little as possible."

Steve Tyler, the county's criminal district attorney, raised several questions during the meeting about exceptions and regulations.

"If you go too far, you'll have problems meeting constitutional muster and then it's harder and harder to enforce," he said, questioning whether the court would regulate every 7-Eleven with a girlie magazine.

Some specific concerns addressed in two proposed ordinances, modeled after the city of Garland and Harris County, included signage, location, age requirements and what goes on inside the business such as magazine or movie sales versus nude dancing.

"Until you adopt an ordinance, there are no regulation," Allison said. "Businesses are free to operate with no restrictions."

Allison said the court would need to give pre-existing businesses a time-frame to meet the new regulations and recoup costs, typically between one and three years.

"You may want to get the ordinance in place before there's much need for it," Allison said. "You don't want to wait until there's a plethora of these businesses around."



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