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Jonesboro seeks adult entertainment rules

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

While the city of Forest Park soon will become home to a seizable, new, adult entertainment business, the city of Jonesboro is tightening up its adult entertainment ordinances.

After successfully procuring an adult entertainment license from the city of Forest Park last Monday, Pink Pony South is scheduled to open to the public this week. The "soft opening" for the 12,000-square-foot strip club and restaurant, located at 4730 Frontage Road, will take place today from the hours of noon to 2 a.m.

According to Suzanne Coe, attorney for Pink Pony South majority shareholder, Jack Galardi, said the club plans to employ over 100 entertainers and 50 staff employees.

Meanwhile, officials in the city of Jonesboro, are trying to enact measures designed to regulate and monitor adult bookstores and adult entertainment businesses. After a public hearing, a vote on the proposed amendment will take place at the next Jonesboro City Hall meeting March 10.

On Monday, the Jonesboro city council completed a second reading of a proposed amendment to the city's adult entertainment ordinance. If passed, the amendment would define an adult bookstore as a store "in which more than twenty percent (20%) of floor space" is dedicated to, or "more than 10 percent (10%) of its net sales" are derived from, material considered pornographic.

Under the current ordinance, the only way to determine whether or not a store is selling pornographic material is by gross sales receipts, which can be falsified. The Clayton County Sheriff's Department and the city of Jonesboro ran into the issue during a raid last March, which resulted in New York Video at 8564-C Tara Blvd., being shut down.

"There was a lot that was rung up under 'miscellaneous,' so there was no way to tell what they were selling," said Jonesboro City Councilman Rick Yonce. "It was kind of hard to monitor what was going on."

Yonce said the amendment wouldn't "shut down" Jonesboro stores that sell pornography, but would "lower the amount of certain items that they will be able to sell."

In the proposed ordinance, any store defined as an adult entertainment establishment will have to pay a $2,000 license application fee and an annual $5,000 regulatory fee.

Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said the amendment would make the city's adult entertainment ordinance "easier to enforce."

"At one time, we were using gross receipts," said Maddox. "That takes time and depends on the honesty of the store owner to ring up what he said he would.

"This can be checked at any time," Maddox continued. "My code enforcement officer can go into the store and measure the square footage about any time he wants to go in."

Adult bookstores and entertainment businesses have sparked opposition throughout the Atlanta area, including Forest Park, because of their offerings.

Attorney Coe said the Pink Pony in Forest Park will be a top-line facility.

Pink Pony South will include fine dining options, such as Fire and Ice, an upscale restaurant adjoining the club, as well as a "floating sushi bar" on the second level of the club, which overlooks the stage below, Coe said.

The Crazy Horse Saloon, another Galardi-owned strip club in Forest Park, met public opposition when it was established in 1993, recalled John Park, Forest Park city manager.

"There was a religious movement that sort of took hold during that period of time," said Parker. "A group called the Religious Right emphatically opposed the opening of the Crazy Horse. They were very active when something of this nature was to be addressed by local authorities."

Parker said once the Crazy Horse Saloon's adult entertainment license was approved, the public voted out four of the then, seven-member council in 1993, and subsequently voted out the mayor and three remaining council members two years later. The fallout contributed to Parker resigning in June 1994 and taking a job as the city manager and chief of police of Avondale Estates, Ga., for the next ten years.

Parker said while some people have complained about the prominence of the Pink Pony South sign on Interstate 75, public reaction to new club has been less severe.

"While this is not the kind of business that you would go out and solicit, it seems like it is more accepted than it was 15 ... 18 years ago," said Parker. "They've complied with the city ... the courts say that you must allow people first amendment rights, and this falls under that."

Coe believes "the fear of the unknown is not there," for Pink Pony South as it was for the Crazy Horse Saloon. While a June 2007 brawl between two rival motorcycle clubs in front of the Crazy Horse Saloon left one person dead, Coe said that "the Crazy Horse has proven to be a good neighbor."

"I don't think people are afraid," said Coe. "People have been waiting for these jobs. It's jobs that are steady. Coe added that Pink Pony South had turned the once abandoned Airline Inn into a business "actively engaged in commerce."

"It's taking something that I wouldn't walk by at night ... and turning it into good business," said Coe.