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Kenton free to regulate adult sites

By Crystal Harden, Post staff reporter

Adult-entertainment businesses have not proliferated outside Covington in Kenton County, but new County Commissioner Barb Black doesn't want to wait until they do to talk about regulating them.

Commissioner Black, who took office in January, was instrumental in getting changes to Taylor Mill's zoning ordinance to regulate such establishments in that city.

'I'm working with the county attorney to get that done in Kenton County in the unincorporated area,' she said.

'I think that's really important that we move in this direction.

'I think there are some places out in the county that could be unprotected.'

A ruling Friday ensures that fiscal courts in Kentucky have the power to regulate adult entertainment businesses.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overruled a lower court and instead found that fiscal courts may regulate such establishments. Several businesses in the Louisville area had sued to challenge the Jefferson County Fiscal Court's authority to regulate them.

Commissioner Black wants to be pro-active in dealing with adult-entertainment businesses to give the county a tight rein on such places, she said.

'As far as I'm concerned, it's a community-safety issue,' she said.

She said she is concerned because of the success that an adult entertainment club called Rumors has had in Clermont County, Ohio.

She recently attended a seminar presented by a group called Citizens for Community Values that said the company that opened Rumors is planning to add similar establishments in the Cincinnati area, especially at expressway exits.

The judge-executives in Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties, all of whom are new to office, said they haven't thought much about regulating adult establishments.

'Most of that has been basically at the city level,' said Kenton County Judge-Executive Dick Murgatroyd. 'It tends to be an issue that impacts Covington more than any place.'

Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery said: 'It's not really on the radar screen for us at the moment, because I don't see it as being a problem here.'

Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore also said the Fiscal Court hasn't talked about such regulations.

After the Jefferson County Fiscal Court lost in a lower court ruling, the Kentucky General Assembly amended state law in 1998 to make clear that the legislature intended to allow fiscal courts the power to regulate adult entertainment businesses.

The lawmakers said they believed the legislature already allowed such regulation through its prior grant of home-rule authority to fiscal courts.

This week appeals judges Ronald Gilman, Gilbert Merritt and Alan Norris unanimously reversed U.S. District Judge Thomas Russell, who had ruled in August 1997 against Jefferson County officials.

Gilman wrote for the unanimous appeals panel that the 1998 amendment 'makes crystal clear that fiscal court regulation of adult entertainment establishments is permissible.'

C&H Entertainment Inc., Danny's Inc. and Gold Coast Inc. filed the lawsuit to challenge a Jefferson County ordinance that regulates and licenses adult entertainment businesses and their employees in the county, which includes Louisville.

The ordinance requires that businesses providing live or recorded nude entertainment obtain licenses from Jefferson County and comply with restrictions on signs, construction and security.

The Associated Press contributed to this story .

Publication date: 03-06-99

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