Myrtle Beach halts licenses to adult businesses, planning department to study zoning

mprabhu@thesunnews.comJanuary 14, 2014 

As of Tuesday, Myrtle Beach will not issue business licenses to sexually oriented businesses while the planning department researches whether changes need to be made to the city’s zoning laws after changes were made in the county.

BY CAROLINE EVANS — cevans@thesunnews.com

As of Tuesday, Myrtle Beach will not issue business licenses to sexually oriented businesses while the planning department researches whether changes need to be made to the city’s zoning laws after changes were made in the county.

Myrtle Beach City Council voted Tuesday to approve a pending ordinance doctrine that puts the moratorium in place. There is no time limit for the moratorium to be in place.

“A moratorium is a good thing right now,” Mayor John Rhodes said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen with this new ordinance and people coming into the city.”

Last year, Horry County Council changed its zoning ordinance to restrict adult-themed businesses to one of three zoned areas in the county – highway commercial, limited industrial and heavy industrial. It also forces the businesses to be at least 1,500 feet from certain structures, such as residential properties, churches and day cares.

A conduct ordinance, also passed by Horry County Council last year, prevents adult-themed businesses from being open between midnight and 6 a.m. The ordinance sets stricter rules for businesses with viewing booths and prevents nudity.

“The county has passed a fairly far-reaching ordinance and we need to take a look at ours to see if anything needs to be changed,” city manager Tom Leath said.

Walt Wysk, chief code inspector with the city, said someone had expressed interest in putting a strip club in a building at the corner of Executive Avenue and Grissom Parkway, but the location did not meet parking requirements.

City attorney Tom Ellenburg said that while the county’s new laws prompted the city to look at adult businesses, there are no plans to match any changes the city makes with the county’s ordinance.

Ellenburg said because he has previous legal experience with adult oriented businesses, he was asked to work with the county on its ordinance.

“Part of my due diligence at the beginning of that process was to compare what they were considering and the case law behind it with what we have in place,” he said.

Ellenburg said of the city’s existing ordinance: “It has a little bit of age on it. That’s not a bad thing. But at the same time it requires some due diligence on our part to make sure we’re completely up to date on that.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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