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Clay County Ends Adult Entertainment Ban; Sets Zoning Ordinances

Rusty Clark

Adult entertainment businesses are cleared to set-up shop in Clay County after city commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of removing a 30-year-old ban this week.

The city was advised to vote the ban out, or face possible lawsuits.

Adult entertainment businesses can range from bookstores to dancing establishments.

Chairwoman Diane Hutchings voted in favor of lifting the ban. She says four law firms reviewed the ban and said it would not sustain a court challenge.

“By having a ban that could not be enforced, it meant that all 1,875 commercial parcels were at risk to have one of these type businesses locate there,” Hutchings said.

Florida Coastal School of Law Professor Greg Pingree says the ban violated First Amendment rights. So instead of outlawing adult entertainment, Clay commissioners voted to highly regulate it with ordinances.

“Zoning ordinances as well as what are called time, place and manner controls,” Pingree said. “So, when the business can operate, how it can operate, and where it can operate.”

Clay adult entertainment businesses cannot be within 2,500 feet of a school or 500 feet of a religious institution, and they cannot serve alcohol.

Vice Chair Ronnie Robinson was the only commissioner to vote against lifting the ban. He says, why lift a ban that’s never been challenged?

“And now it’s legal for adult entertainment to be in Clay County as long as you can meet there’s very tough regulations which somebody can do or will do,” Robinson said.

Robinson says a better option would be to keep the ban in place, and only vote through the regulating ordinances if the ban is challenged in court.

Commissioners have designated 19 locations where adult establishments could potentially set-up shop throughout Clay County.

Photo credit: "Cocoa Beach FL" by Rusty Clark is used under CC BY 2.0.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.