AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Augusta’s last two strip clubs are making a federal case to stay in business downtown.
“It’s probably not unexpected, but we’ll have to look into it and we’re going to let our legal team handle it,” says Commissioner John Clarke.
The Discotheque Inc. and the Estate of James Lester are filing suit against the mayor and Commissioners calling the city’s adult entertainment codes unconstitutional.
“Probably pretty sure it will eventually come back to the county commission. We’ll have to look at what the arguments are and make sure we continue to make good decisions for the city,” says Commissioner Bobby Williams.
In February, Commissioners decided not to change city code to allow adult entertainment licenses to heirs after the owner dies.
The city ordinance has been around for years.
“Previous governments established in 2003 that there wouldn’t be a transfer, so now why are they doing it now? They had a long time to get it changed, they knew this day was coming, so I don’t know what to think of it,” says Mayor Pro-Tem Sean Frantom.
Augusta knows about adult entertainment court fights, waging an 8 year battle against the X-Mart, before paying a $550 thousand dollar settlement to the company and allowing the store to reopen, a losing fight city leaders do not want to repeat.
“We’ll have that discussion. They should not have fought it back then, we’re not going to fight it this time. If that’s the way it looks like it’s going to go, we don’t want to waste taxpayers money,” says Mayor Pro-Tem Frantom.
The city adult entertainment ordinance allows in areas zoned ‘industrial’ but commissioners did amend it earlier this year to allow alcohol to be served.
But the Discotheque’s lawsuit contends the city’s adult entertainment zoning rules are unconstitutional so the clubs should be allowed to continue operating in the downtown area as they have in the past.