City councilman rekindles "Blue Light District" debate - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City councilman rekindles "Blue Light District" debate

(WMC-TV) – The Memphis City Council's debate on a possible "Blue Light District" is on hold for the next two weeks. But that makes the debate no less saucy.

When you hit the highway from the Memphis International Airport, one of the first businesses you see is an adult bookstore.

Councilman Shea Flinn is rekindling a 25-year-old debate. He proposes that an ad hoc committee study the feasibility of isolating businesses like the adult bookstore into an industrial area.

"It's not pro-strip club. It's recognizing that we have this reality in our community and how we best manage it," said Councilman Flinn.

The discussion comes after a Shelby County Commission law went into effect January 1 that sent strip club owners packing.

"There are also documented secondary characteristics that follow these clubs and we want to minimize that with the neighborhoods," said Flinn.

The new law bans booze, requires pasties, and a six-foot distance between dancers and patrons.

Strip club beer sales once netted the city up to $5 million each year.

Flinn's self-termed "Blue Light District" would allow beer, and bring back nude dancing, unlike red light districts, which allow prostitution.

"That's illegal in Memphis and will remain illegal in Memphis," he said.

Before tougher laws went into effect, Memphis was known for "wide open" strip clubs.

In 2006, police put padlocks on several strip clubs for illegal prostitution.

The idea of an adult business district last came up in 1993, but no council member wanted it in their border.

"I'm thinking of an area away from churches, schools, and neighborhoods, that has a buffer zone that allows future development that will keep that buffer zone away," Flinn explained.

He would not say where.

Flinn did say President's Island is off the table due to Homeland Security concerns.

If approved, the Ad Hoc Committee would include representatives from police, the district attorney's office, city council, county commission, the EDGE Board and the city attorney.

They would come back with recommendations in 60 days.

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