Strip Club Proposal Denied

An effort to bring a strip club to Hancock County lost a major battle Thursday night but the battle isn't over. Zoning commissioners rejected a plan to build a new sports bar on the east side of Highway 90, between Royal Oak Drive and Lakeshore Road.

Because the bar would feature nude dancing, a group of investors, called Magnolia One, was hoping commissioners would approve a special exception to the county's zoning laws.

Zoning Commissioners may have said 'no' but investors aren't ready to take no for an answer.

Zoning commissioners wasted no time shooting down the proposed strip club.

"As president of the Hancock County Zoning Board I'd like to make the motion to deny the request of Magnolia One for a special exception," said Commission President Lynn Bell.

Commissioners based their decision largely on input they received from residents who packed the County's Civic Center last month in opposition to the business. They also said Magnolia One failed to meet other criteria needed to qualify for a special exception to zoning laws.

Bell said, " It has not provided any documentation as to the affect of the business on property values. It has not provided any documentation as to the compatibility of the business to the harmony of the area. It has not shown evidence that the business will not be injurious to the neighborhood or the general welfare of the County.

Magnolia One attorney Virgil Gillespie said, " If you'd ask me to write the script, I probably could have worded verbatim."

He added, " I figured that they would come up and do exactly what they did. This is what we expected."

As fast as the proposal was shot down, Gillespie was ready to appeal the decision. He had a motion typed and ready for County Supervisors.

The Reverend Al Green said, "I think the board made a right decision."

Green is the vice president of the Hancock County Ministerial Alliance, which is made up of 11 Hancock County Churches.

The Alliance President, Jeb Banashak, said, "Our county does not need that kind of activity to enhance anything and there is no redeeming value at all in it."

The future of the proposed strip club will likely be made by a judge. Magnolia One has already said if County Supervisors give a thumbs down, they'll head to court.

County Supervisors are expected to set a public hearing date on the controversial issue at its next Board meeting later this month.

Al Showers