Sexually oriented shops and tattoo parlors under the microscope - - The News for South Mississippi

Sexually oriented shops and tattoo parlors under the microscope in 2 cities

By Rebecca Powers – bio | email

GULFPORT, ST (WLOX) - On Tuesday, the Gulfport City council voted to amend restrictions on sexually oriented stores and tattoo parlors giving them the right to operate with a little more freedom.

Love them or hate them, council members agreed unanimously it is their constitutional right to exist.

Gulfport's tattoo parlor ordinance restricts getting inked near schools, day cares and churches....

Ward 6 Councilman R. Lee Flowers said, "Because it's just not conducive to those environments, so we want to restrict those."

But tattoo artists say the ordinance is pushing them out because it states that their parlors can't be near a liquor store, bar or casino either so they asked the city council to change that.

"I want to allow businesses to come in I don't want to stifle them from coming in."

The rest of the council agreed with Flowers and voted unanimously that ink shops can operate near businesses where you must be 21 to enter anyway.

A more controversial industry that also asked for a change in the city ordinance is sexually oriented businesses. Owners of such shops oppose being forced into tiny pockets of the city, basically segregated.

City attorney Jeff Bruni told the city council that research from other larger cities in the U.S. shows that "clumping" adult shops together only degrades the small areas where they're allowed. He says dispersing them would be better. Again, the council agreed.

After all, like them or not, sexually oriented businesses do have the right to operate in the U.S. But it is also within the legal rights of a city to decide where they should or should not be located.

Mayor George Schloegel said, "We realize that individuals have a constitutional right to put certain types of operations in a city, but the other citizens have a right to, to not be bothered by things that they don't like so well".

The issue of adult businesses also came up during Tuesday's Biloxi council meeting.

It came up during public comments. Ben Chanek is pushing to build an adult store off the Woolmarket exit on highway 67 in Biloxi.

He claims the council imposed a moratorium to keep him from building.

Chanek said the moratorium has expired, he's submitted the proper paperwork and he's ready to build. "I'm trying to understand exactly where they're point of issue is with the adult novelty store. I mean the ordinance as already been laid out. They can come out to see the store".

The city's community development director, Jerry Creel says a moratorium was issued because the city is trying to figure out the best zoning of that area for future development.

A land ordinance team is set to meet with the council in the next couple of weeks.

The council will use that information to help them zone the area.

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