Oxford considers adult entertainment ordinance

Oxford StockBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – The Oxford Planning Commission voted Thursday to recommend passage of a proposed adult entertainment ordinance to the mayor and Board of Aldermen.

The board will likely vote on the issue in mid-December or early January.

City officials were careful to note that the city has neither existing nor any known prospective sexually oriented businesses, and is not encouraging any.

“We used to have an adult entertainment ordinance,” said City Attorney Paul Watkins. During a reworking of the land use code, it was inadvertently left out, and without mention of adult entertainment in the code, he said, “It means it can go anywhere or it can go nowhere.”

Watkins said courts have held that sexually oriented businesses can be regulated to protect public health and safety but that they cannot be banned outright.

“There’s a whole lot of law out there that says it’s protected First Amendment speech,” he said.

The draft ordinance regulates businesses dealing in sexually oriented print, movies, novelties related to “specified sexual activities” or where performers displaying “specified anatomical areas.”

The ordinance limits adult entertainment overlay districts to areas zoned General Business that are at least 1,000 feet from places of worship, public or private schools, any area zoned for single-family residences, licensed day care centers or another sexually oriented business.

Thosse specifications leave one area on West Jackson Avenue that includes Walmart and Belk shopping centers and another near the airport.

Watkins said residents have been concerned about the purpose of the ordinance.

“We just want to make clear that the reason we’re doing it is so we don’t end up with a business like this in an area where we really wish it weren’t,” he said.

errol.castens@journalinc.com