Attorney questions ordinance governing sexually oriented businesses - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Attorney questions ordinance governing sexually oriented businesses

A Memphis attorney raised questions Wednesday about a new ordinance governing sexually oriented businesses in Shelby County.

Attorney Edward Bearman, who represents three strip clubs inside the Memphis City limits, said the new ordinance in Shelby County might not be what people think.

"It's very possible that hotels, mainstream movie theaters, and country clubs would have to register as sexually oriented businesses because of the way those businesses are defined under this act," he said.

According to Bearman, that's because hotel customers can order adult movies, mainstream theaters have nudity, and country clubs have massage therapists. 

Bearman also had concerns about selective enforcement.

"If these mainstream-type businesses are not required to register, then you're selecting certain types of businesses over others to enforce this act against," he said.
The issue came to the forefront after Cordova residents made claims a strip club disguised as a restaurant was under construction in their suburb.  Soon after, the Shelby County Commission adopted tougher rules for sexually oriented businesses, leaving Memphis with a choice to either adopt the same rules or draw up their own.

"My clients are seeking a compromise that would allow them to run lawful businesses," Bearman said.

Some Memphis City Council members are floating an idea to prevent new sexually oriented businesses from moving too close to schools and churches by extending the required distance from 1,000 feet to 2,000 feet.

That would mean the Cordova restaurant in question could never become an sexually oriented business, because of its location less than 2,000 feet from a church.

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