A U.S. District Judge denied The Gold Club’s motion for temporary restraining order this week that would have halted Horry County’s two recent ordinances pertaining to adult businesses.
Judge Mary Lewis heard arguments from both sides Friday regarding the temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and evidentiary hearing requested by RT Entertainment, which does business locally as The Gold Club.
Judge Lewis issued a ruling Monday.
“A plaintiff seeking injunctive relief must establish each of the following four elements: (1) the likelihood that the plaintiff will succeed on the merits; (2) the likelihood of irreparable harm to the plaintiff if the injunction is not granted; (3) that the balance of equities tips in his or her favor; and (4) that the injunction is in the public interest,” Judge Lewis wrote. “Moreover, a plaintiff must demonstrate more than the mere ‘possibility’ of irreparable harm because injunctive relief is an extraordinary remedy that may only be awarded upon a clear showing that plaintiff is entitled to such relief...
“After careful consideration, the court finds that plaintiffs have not made a clear showing based on the four factors set forth above required for the issuance of a temporary restraining order. Therefore, plaintiffs’ motion for temporary restraining order is denied.”
The county has spent years trying to concoct ordinances with teeth to crack down on adult-themed businesses. It has gone to local, state and federal court trying to find the legal medium between what is guaranteed as a right to adult business owners and what county officials deem as proper location for the businesses and proper conduct.
It spent the summer working in various committees alongside Scott Bergthold, an attorney from Tennessee who the county hired in February. Bergthold gave presentation after presentation, showing county officials some of the secondary crimes that occurred in and around adult businesses in recent years. He showed them various laws that were upheld in federal court and how those laws could be applicable in Horry County.
On Sept. 3, the County Council passed a zoning ordinance and a conduct ordinance. The new zoning ordinance restricts 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 residential properties, churches, daycares and the like, which will effectively make every adult business in unincorporated Horry County in violation unless they change their current ways. The conduct ordinance prevents adult-themed businesses from being open between midnight and 6 a.m. The ordinance also sets stricter rules for businesses with viewing booths and prevents nudity in gentleman’s clubs. It also states semi-nudity is OK if employees are six feet from patrons on a stage that is at least 18 inches high.
The next day, The Gold Club filed a motion that stated it has, for the past eight years, presented “constitutionally protected, erotic dance performances” at its place of business.
Mike Rose, owner of The Gold Club, has previously told The Sun News he plans to continue business at The Gold Club by getting more creative with shows at the club, adding there may be more Vegas-style entertainment. Rose could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for the county, issued a statement this week on the ruling.
“The court’s ruling allows the county to implement the newly enacted ordinances in due course,” she said. The ordinance does not take effect until Dec. 3. “The county will, of course, continue to adhere to the legal process while vigorously defending its ordinances.”
The county and Rose are still embroiled in a court battle after the county’s zoning department denied Rose’s request to place a club similar to The Gold Club along Restaurant Row where the former Thee Dollhouse was located, near the north end of the Grand Strand.