Members of the public sound off about proposed strip club ordinances - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Anna Marie Hartman

Members of the public sound off about proposed strip club ordinances

For weeks, Memphis City Council members and Shelby County Commissioners have been wrangling about seperate strip club ordinances each body is trying to pass.

Thursday, Memphis City Attorney Elbert Jefferson invited the public to sound off about the Memphis adult nightclub ordinance that, if passed, would trump Shelby County law.

During the public hearing, the City Council chamber at Memphis City Hall was packed with heavy hitters, including businessmen, lawyers, and city officials, most of them in favor of tougher laws at Memphis' adult nightclubs. 

Bill Griffin is the top executive at Smith and Nephew in the airport area.

"The sexually oriented businesses have been a deterrent to conduct our global business there," he said.

City Council members have two more readings of a an adult nightclub ordinance that would allow topless dancing and beer sales at local strip clubs. Shelby County Commissioners recently adopted a state law that would ban alcohol sales and require dancers to cover up their private parts and keep their distance from customers.

"Our position is that we would encourage the City Council to support the ordinance that was adopted by the County Commission," said Dexter Miller of the Memphis Regional Chamber.

Price Harris, an attorney for three local nightclubs, argued that adult businesses are not the major source of crime in Memphis.

"There is no indication that there is an enhancement of crime at these clubs more so than any other place in Memphis," he said.

Proponents of the city ordinance said banning beer would result in millions of dollars in lost revenue, while others argued the city would recoup that money by cracking down on adult clubs.

"If these businesses were regulated and investors felt comfortable investing in businesses around these properties and property tax values started going up and they only went up 2 percent that replaces the lost revenue in city taxes," said John Lawrence of the Airport Area Development Corporation.

City attorney Elbert Jefferson said he would submit information gathered at Thursday's hearing to City Council members in time for their next meeting, when they are scheduled to vote on the second of three readings on their own set of laws for strip clubs.


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