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Anti-porn Group Fights to Enforce Zoning Laws

Louisville, Kentucky- Despite a prostitution arrest hanging over one of its founding members, the leader of a local anti-pornography group says its mission is as strong as ever.

“If anything, it’s strengthened us,” said Sandy Lawson, chairwoman of Citizens of Metro for Property and Safety and Security. “We didn’t lose one bit of momentum. In fact, we’ve picked it up.”

COMPASS continued lobbying Monday evening with a three-hour bus tour in which four Metro Council members were either taken to or driven by 15 Southern Jefferson County adult businesses in an 11-mile radius. Lawson said it was a chance for those officials to get a feel for how close those businesses are to homes.

The councilmen in attendance were Stuart Benson, R-20th District; Robin Engel, R-22nd District; James Peden, R-23rd District; and Doug Hawkins R-25th District, as well as 15 citizens.

Throughout the tour, COMPASS leaders pointed out the proximity of each business to residential areas to illustrate that crime rates increase and property values decline when an adult entertainment business moves in.

According to Louisville Metro Police, former COMPASS vice-chairman, John W. “Wayne” Riddle, 65, of Clay Avenue, was arrested Nov. 22 after police spotted him in a car with a known prostitute.

Police said both Riddle and co-defendant, Mary M. Perry, 42, admitted that they were going to commit sex acts for money.

He resigned the day after the arrest.

COMPASS members agree with their adversaries that sexually oriented businesses have a right to exist, but vice chairman Scott Harrington said they don’t have a right to do business anywhere they want.

“Zoning is the only way to protect families and neighborhoods,” he said.

But both COMPASS members and elected officials offered no solutions on where porn businesses should be or could be zoned if they are shut down.

Engel said clustering the businesses in one part of town is the best answer, but couldn’t say where that area would be or how clustering would be accomplished. Peden, on the other hand, said this “war-zone” method probably isn’t a good option. “It doesn’t appear to be very successful,” he said.

Lawson offered another suggestion: Spread the porn businesses throughout the metro area, as long as we “get them out of the neighborhoods.”

The tour proceeded without incident until the final stop. After a meeting at Glory Baptist Church on Preston Highway, in which nearby residents spoke out about rises in drug trafficking, sex crimes and vandalism since the adult store CAM 1 moved to the area, about 10 COMPASS members walked to the porn business next door, many of them wearing COMPASS caps.

Once inside, clerks became angry as the members walked through the store. Some of them went to the back to inspect peep-show booths. One employee, who refused to give his name, said he didn’t know who the group was, but said that they had been in the news all day and he didn’t want them in the store.

“They’ve been asked to leave,” the employee said. “It’s private property, and they won’t do it.”

COMPASS members continued to mill about as the two clerks became angrier and demanded that they leave. When police arrived, they did.

Melissa Pollard, a single mother of two who lives near CAM 1, said her children must wait for the school bus underneath that store’s sign each morning. But because she is on a tight budget, she said she can’t move. “Am I planning to move? No. I hope they move,” she said.

CAM 1 is one of eight adult businesses that Louisville Metro Government intends to shut down because they are located within the 500-foot buffer zone between adult businesses and schools, churches and neighborhoods.

The others are Blue Sky on Dixie Highway, Pure Pleasure on Fern Valley Road, Prissy’s Boutique on Seventh Street Road, Thorobred EX on Dixie Highway, Metro Station on Poplar Level Road, Priscilla’s on Hurstbourne Parkway and Priscilla’s on Dixie Highway.

Mike Hatzell, an attorney representing Blue Sky and CAM 1, said he’ll argue that those businesses should have grandfather rights because they were in business when the ordinance was enacted.

Hatzell had little good to say about COMPASS.

“They’re pretty much a joke,” he said. “You can quote me on that. I don’t see COMPASS entering into the equation. They make a lot of noise, but the bottom line is they don’t have much clout.”

Jimmy Kleinhans, the owner of Pure Pleasure, who lives in Tampa but comes to Louisville once a month, said his business is in a legal location and will fight the constitutionality of the zoning.

James Holmes, an employee of Metro Station, thinks all adult businesses should be made to follow the same laws. If Metro Station needs to be 500 feet from a neighborhood, he said, then so should Ballatore’s, the bar next door, and the liquor store in the neighborhood.

“Basically they (COMPASS) are mad because they’re saying people are trying to come in and spice up their life,” he said.

But Lawson, who lives in Buechel, said owners of adult businesses don’t live near their shops. “The reality is the people who own these businesses don’t live upstairs of them,” she said, adding that the owners wouldn’t want their businesses in their own neighborhoods.

Hearings to decide the fate of these businesses were initially scheduled for yesterday, but because of Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s inauguration, the hearings will be on Dec. 17, Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, with more to come later, said Bill Patteson, spokesman for Jefferson County Attorney Irv Maze.

In a related issue, a metro ordinance limiting hours of operation of all adult businesses and strip clubs is set to go into effect today, said Chad Carlton, spokesman for Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson.

“It’s likely to not go away,” Patteson said of the dispute. “It’s been an issue for a long time. (Louisville) has been a rowdy river town since its beginning. It’s going to be an eternal question, I think.”
 

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