Horry County officials explained the proposed adult business ordinance during a Carolina Forest Civic Association meeting Wednesday, and assured the more than 40 attendees that deed restrictions on properties will keep adult businesses at bay.
But at least one adult business, Airport Express Video, is crying foul saying the deed restrictions do not provide ample room for adult businesses, as required by federal law, and vow that the adult business debate is not over, said Michael Ray, a spokesman for the store. Ray said the company will issue a statement regarding the meeting shortly.
Janet Carter, a licensed attorney and the county’s planning director, said time is of the essence to pass an adult business ordinance partly because the county is embroiled in a legal battle in federal court with The Gold Club, who claims the county’s zoning ordinance is unconstitutional.
“If this zoning ordinance is struck down by the federal court, because we don’t have enough locations in the county, we will have no rules and they can locate anywhere that a restaurant bar can locate,” Carter said.
Carolina Forest residents are concerned because under the proposed ordinance, which needs a third positive vote on Sept. 3 to make its way to law, the county outlined three areas in which adult businesses can re-locate. Within those three areas – highway commercial, limited industrial and heavy industrial – residents are concerned some land in those zoning restrictions fall pretty close to Carolina Forest along U.S. 501. The businesses would still have to abide by further terms, such as 1,500 feet from residential properties, churches and more, before finding a permanent home.
Airport Express Video has indicated it is looking at property in the Carolina Forest area if it is required to move.
Dennis DiSabato asked about how the proposed zoning ordinance would impact land in the 20-year Carolina Forest Land Development Agreement between the county and International Paper, which was adopted 16 years ago. The agreement froze zoning for the duration of the contract.
Carter said the proposed ordinance, if approved, would just be delayed until the agreement expires in 2017.
“For the property that’s covered by the development agreement, what it would do is just stay the application of the new ordinance and it keep it under the new ordinance until the end of 2017,” Carter said. “And then at the end of 2017, the new ordinance would come into effect.”
Chairman Mark Lazarus said the county has done extensive deed research in the areas in question and found the deeds specifically say no gambling devices, except lottery machines, and no adult entertainment.
“Any piece of property that [International Paper] has in their name, whether it was in the development agreement within Carolina Forest... is deed restricted,” Lazarus said. “So it’s filed at the courthouse in these deeds. It specifically says in the deed no adult entertainment. It goes as far to say that if any zoning ordinance changes in the county that the deed restriction applies.”
Lazarus said other developable property zoned where it would allow adult businesses, if the proposed ordinance passes, are governed by Burroughs and Chapin and Myrtle Beach Farms properties that have the same deed restrictions, as well.
Carter said the County Council can consider holding off on enforcing the ordinances until a court rules in the county’s favor and that talk of litigation comes with the territory.
“That’s, I think, just scare tactics,” she said. “Yes, there’s going to be litigation. There’s always going to be litigation involving adult entertainment.”
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.