Neighbors protest adult entertainment zone proposal

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Residents of neighborhoods near a proposed adult entertainment zone adamantly told Oxford’s mayor and aldermen on Tuesday that the area was unsuitable for the designation.

City officials have wrestled with where to establish such zoning since it was discovered the designation was inadvertently left off of a revised land-use map several years ago. Courts, said City Attorney Pope Mallette, have held that adult entertainment businesses such as strip clubs are protected under the First Amendment but can be heavily regulated to minimize their impact to the communities where they operate.

Oxford City Planner Tim Akers had recommended a small industrial-zoned area on Old College Hill Road at the end of the University-Oxford Airport runway be designated for adult entertainment. It was one of the few areas in the densely developed town that was more than 1,000 feet from the nearest school, park and church.

“This is truly a dysfunctional arrangement,” said Mark Bing, a resident of nearby Lakeway Gardens and the father of one child already born and another on the way. “It’s far too proximate to Lamar Park (and) the entire area around the proposed area is surrounded by residential areas.” He added that adult-oriented entertainment businesses would be a shocking contrast to those on their way to the University of Mississippi Golf Course.

Bob Cummings, also a resident of Lakeway Gardens, said he acknowledged the legality of the city’s decision process but asked that it be extended to allow extra public input.

“I respectfully submit that the amount of input you’ve had is not proportional to the concern,” he said.

One speaker guessed that in warm weather nearly three-quarters of the traffic on College Hill Road is going to FNC Park, the city-county sports complex.

Mayor Pat Patterson said without an adult entertainment zone, such a business could open anywhere in the city.

“We get occasional calls about adult entertainment – more than you would think we would. Usually we don’t take it very seriously,” he said. “Last spring we received a call that gave us some concern. It came from an out-of-town source, and we took it pretty seriously.

“We’re not going to allow them to serve alcohol, we’ve restricted their signage and we’ve tried to find the least desirable location,” Patterson said. “We’ve done everything we can.”

If no significant changes are made to the draft ordinance, aldermen are scheduled to vote on it Jan. 7.

errol.castens@journalinc.com