Town moving to pre-empt sex businesses

Published: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2005 at 1:01 a.m.
LAKE BUTLER - No one has expressed any interest in opening an adult bookstore or adult movie theater or massage parlor in this town of just over 2,000 residents.
"We just don't want to be caught off guard," said City Commissioner Lynn Bishop.
She and other city leaders held a workshop Monday night on how to best regulate any adult businesses that may want to open in Lake Butler in the future. Commissioners will meet again on Feb. 14 to hear the first reading of an ordinance to limit where adult businesses would be allowed to locate.
The city that covers about 650 acres has four public school campuses, more than 20 churches and about 120 businesses. For about six months the city commissioners have been studying how other municipalities have grappled with ordinances governing adult businesses after one has opened.
In recent years, the city of Alachua, Gainesville, Palatka and Micanopy have dealt with these issues.
To avoid putting Lake Butler in a similar position, commissioners asked the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council for advice on how to regulate adult businesses.
During Monday's hourlong workshop, a principal planner from the council, Enid Ehrbar, reminded commissioners that pornography is protected by the First Amendment, but obscenity is not.
"The challenge comes in defining the two and that is still a work in progress," Ehrbar said. "You (commissioners) have to determine how you want to regulate sex businesses."
Ehrbar told commissioners that municipalities must allow for sites where people can exhibit "alternative forms of expression," including pornography.
The proposal would amend the city's land development regulations, effectively limiting adult oriented businesses to about 33 acres already zoned commercial intensive on the east side of the city. The only development in the area so far had been a Hardee's.
Ehrbar said the plan outlined in the ordinance looked good.
"You want regulation that is defensible (in court)," Ehrbar said. "I thought it (proposed ordinance) was quite good. It looked defensible."
Karen Voyles can be reached at (352) 486-5058 or

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