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Louisiana Parish Seeking Stricter Adult Regulation

RUSTON, Louisiana – If someone wants to open a sexually oriented business in Lincoln Parish, they’d best be prepared to spend a little extra money and find an unobtrusive location.

For about six months, the city of Ruston has been working on a law to license and regulate sexually oriented businesses. Mayor Dan Hollingsworth expects the proposal to go before the Ruston Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday.

“If approved, we’ll take it before the City Council at our next meeting. Then we’ll allow 30 days for public comment before bringing it up for a final vote.”

The city’s action comes on the heels of police jurors adopting a 37-page law governing sexually oriented businesses in unincorporated areas of Lincoln. It is similar to the licensing required of businesses that want to sell alcoholic beverages, Parish Administrator Richard Durrett said.

The parish law requires owners of sexually oriented businesses to purchase licenses, both for the business and all employees. Initial license and renewal fees range from $500 to $1,000, depending on the type of business. Employees would pay $20 a year for individual licenses.

Those who have certain felony convictions, including any sex crime, would be denied a license to operate or work in a sexually oriented business.

Fines for violating the parish law range from $500 for the first offense to $1,000 for the third offense. A fourth offense could result in revocation of the license.

Ruston officials think they will have a law on the books that’s enforceable when they are finished,” Hollingsworth said. One of the constitutional requirements is that we have to set aside an area for these businesses to locate if they meet all of the licensing requirements.”

Finding that location was difficult, City Planner Sherry Bailey said. “Because of the nature of these type businesses and the crime associated with them, it is important to regulate where they are located, so that you don’t adversely affect other people. We ended up placing them in Zone D-2, heavy industry, on McDonald Street, or the very northern portion of Louisiana 33.”

Industrial areas are the least aesthetically pleasing areas in a city, Bailey said. “Something like the pink building would have less of an impact there. Also, industrial areas are generally away from residential areas.”

Her reference to the pink building alludes to the former Fantasy Video on the Interstate 20 Service Road between Ruston and Grambling. A Lincoln District Court jury recently convicted that store’s owner, Dan Sasha Birman, of violating the state’s obscenity law. As part of a plea bargain to avoid prison time, Birman agreed to close the store and never open another sexually oriented business in Lincoln.

David Beckler, 39, owner of The Great Divide, said he has already removed all items considered sexually oriented from his store in Ruston. “The day Birman got arrested, all of my windows were broken out of my store. Three days later, it happened again.

“When I saw that the Police Jury ordinance had passed, I took everything porn-related out; I’ve been here seven years and don’t want to cause any problems.”

When told that the parish law does not affect his business, Beckler said, “That’s OK. We’re skeptical about getting back into the porn business because of the ramifications.”

Which is exactly what Lincoln District Attorney Bob Levy hopes the parish law will achieve. “We don’t want these type businesses here. This ordinance is designed to bring oversight and regulation to sexually oriented businesses.”



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