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Love Shack Fights Padlock order

Johns Creek, Georgia- An attorney for an adult video store wrote a letter this morning warning Fulton County to back off plans to padlock the Love Shack in Johns Creek at 3 p.m. today.

Alan Begner faxed a letter to the Fulton County Attorney’s Office citing an order by Federal Court Judge Thomas Thrash that allows the store to be closed only if it sells a “significant” amount of adult material.

Begner’s letter said that the owner, John Cornetta, plans to reduce his inventory to less than 5 percent adult material.

“We believe this is an insignificant amount under anyone’s definition,” Begner wrote.

Begner wrote that he was distressed by County Commissioner Lynne Riley’s comments following a court hearing Wednesday that the county would shut down the store at 3 p.m. barring intervention by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Riley said earlier this morning, “Short of a stay, his doors are going to be closed. Fulton County is going to enforce the judge’s order.”

Closing the store is not an option, Begner said.

“Judge Thrash’s order is enforceable by contempt, not by padlocking,” Begner wrote. “It will cause another … constitutional deprivation of Love Shack’s rights. You are directed to notify Commissioner Riley that her stated plan should be called off. Act accordingly.”

In a hearing before Thrash Wednesday, he ruled that the Love Shack is an adult store and is operating illegally because it lacks proper permits and certificates of occupancy from the county. Thrash stayed the order until 3 p.m. to give Cornetta time to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the written order signed this morning, Thrash reaffirmed that position, but handwrote that the closure order applies as long as the Love Shack offers for sale a significant amount of adult, sexually explicit media, or sex toys or material.

Cornetta was scrambling last night to find such innocuous items as scarves, sportswear, and family movies to dilute his inventory before 3 p.m. He said an audit of the 10,000-square-foot superstore showed he had less than 17 percent adult material as defined by county ordinance. He also pulled some adult videos, magazines and toys off the shelves.

“I want to be in total compliance until the 11th Circuit Court reviews Judge Thrash’s order and they absolutely will throw it out and then we’ll be back where we were,” Cornetta said.

In July, Cornetta applied to Fulton County as a regular business, saying he sells enough non-adult merchandise to qualify as a regular store as defined by the county rules. The county staff wasn’t buying it and refused to give Cornetta permission to open. Cornetta still opened Nov. 29, just ahead of the date that the new city of Johns Creek became officially a city, citing a quirk in the county’s licensing law.

Many residents have been furious at the prospect of an adult superstore in the heart of the city, and Mayor Mike Bodker has conducted two townhall meetings which have attracted hundreds of people.

Michael Garrison, co-owner of the North Atlanta Dance Academy, located across the street from the Love Shack, said Wednesday he hoped Thrash’s ruling would close the Love Shack. He and his wife, Kitty, have feared the store would drive away students.

“We’re very encouraged, but we’re sure we haven’t heard the last of Mr. Cornetta,” Garrison said. “We’re hopeful the judge’s ruling will stand.”


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