Oak Grove Committee of the Whole met Wednesday to discuss how to deter new sexually oriented businesses from opening in the city.

Councilwoman Jean Leavell brought the sexually oriented business ordinances before the committee to review as she felt that it would be important to limit the number of those businesses that could move into Oak Grove.

At Wednesday's meeting, Community Development Services Director Steve Bourne and CDS attorney Steve Underwood met with the committee to determine its ultimate goal with a new ordinance or zoning.

"We've already got three (sexually oriented businesses) on the main strip, and I don't want to see anymore come in," Leavell said.

Those three businesses are The Cat West adult entertainment club, Jenna's Adult Superstore and the Adult Toybox Videos & Stuff. All three stores are on Fort Campbell Boulevard.

"That's our main street," Leavell said. "We don't want our main street to be just sex shops. We want to sell something else."

Bourne said, constitutionally, the council cannot "outlaw" sexually oriented businesses from opening in Oak Grove.

"I think you can do it in a way of putting in some standards that you want them to comply to so that it's not as noticeable when you drive down the street," Bourne said.

He noted that the current ordinance on the books is a licensing ordinance, not a zoning ordinance, which would determine where sexually oriented businesses can be located in the city.

Councilwoman Kisha Mische-Jeffrey said the council has two goals: one, to determine the location of these business and, two, their outside appearance.

"We want to create an area that we're comfortable with these businesses being," Jeffrey said.

Underwood said legally an ordinance cannot encroach on those types of companies' ability to do business.

"There's even some case law there that you have to leave at least 5% of the county or city available in zoning without infringing on their first amendment rights," the attorney said. "Otherwise they can say you're putting undue burden on their creative expression."

One council member asked where the sexually oriented businesses are in Hopkinsville.

"I don't think we have any," Bourne said.

"How did you all accomplish that," the council asked.

According to New Era archives, Christian County enacted its original legislation on sexually oriented businesses in 1983 in reaction to the opening of The Cat West in Oak Grove. Strippers, who said the ordinance would deprive them of their right to earn a livelihood, sued the county. The ordinance was upheld by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In October 2004, the county updated its sexually oriented businesses ordinance.

Oak Grove has an ordinance for sexually oriented businesses; however, Leavell said it needs to be updated to include zoning rules, which requires involvement from CDS.

Bourne said his staff can help, but he wants to make sure their recommendations are linking up with the council's goals.

Bourne said CDS is currently working with Oak Grove on updating its zoning.

"In my mind, (zoning of sexually oriented businesses) could be easily folded into that process that currently is in existence. It's up to you determining how far you want to go one way or the other, and we want to make sure we're addressing the items you want to (address) in this ordinance."

The Oak Grove Committee of the Whole voted to forward the issue to city council in order for CDS to begin working on some zoning options for those businesses. Councilmember Jackie Oliver made the motion and Isaiah Spencer seconded.

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

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