Adult businesses in Shelby County to face tough new rules

(WMC-TV) - Shelby County will begin enforcing tough new rules against adult businesses next year, authorities announced Thursday.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich, Shelby County Sheriff Bill Oldham and Shelby County Clerk Wayne Mashburn announced the new rules at a press conference Thursday.

County commissioners passed the legislation in 2007. Finally, years of legal wrangling are over, and a grace period to come into compliance has begun.

"Effective January 1, 2012, we will begin enforcing this ordinance," Weirich said.

The ordinance outlaws the consumption of alcohol inside adult-oriented businesses, and establishes a 5-member board in charge of permits.

It will all funnel through the Shelby County Clerk's Office. Every year, adult-oriented businesses have to apply for a license and pay a $500 fee. And every year, those dancers have to apply for a license and pay a $100 fee."

County Mayor Mark Luttrell said the ordinance amounts to compromise.

"A delicate balance between a person's right to operate a business in our community and how that owner operates that business," he said.

Fines, closure, jail time and criminal prosecution are all possible for any club or dancer that fails to comply.

"If businesses cannot operate within the letter of the law, we'll be there to do what we do," Weirich said.

The ordinance covers all adult-oriented businesses in the city of Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County - currently a total of eight establishments.

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