FAIRHOPE, Alabama -- When Kevin Black sought a business license for a tattoo art studio, city leaders realized they had better do something about what Black’s place is not, a "sexually oriented business."
In the initial confusion and political rhetoric surrounding Black’s proposal and applicable law, some officials and residents alike imagined a seedy establishment on Magnolia Avenue with heavily tattooed patrons lounging outside day and night with their motorcycles while who-knows-what went on inside.
That was never what Black intended, and he eventually got his license. But the controversy exposed a hole in Fairhope’s zoning law: There are no provisions for adult entertainment establishments.
"The city of Fairhope does not have an adult entertainment ordinance," City Administrator Gregg Mims told the City Council early this week on Monday. He presented a draft ordinance that is not expected to come up for a vote until at least Sept. 10.
Mims emphasized, and re-emphasized, that the administration is not asking to allow sexually oriented businesses in Fairhope, only to place controls on any that do want to locate inside the corporate limits. Otherwise, the Board of Adjustment would have to consider them on a case-by-case basis, as it did with the tattoo parlor, Mims said.
The ordinance will make it "tough to find a spot," he said.
More than 20 types of businesses are listed, leading Councilman Rick Kingrea to wonder, "What’s an adult health/sport club?" They are defined as having a primary focus of "offering for sale, rent, or exhibit, or the exhibit of, items or services intended to provide sexual stimulation, or sexual gratification to the customer, or which places an emphasis on the presentation, display, depiction or description of sexual activities or of nude persons."
Mims said that about 80 percent of the ordinance was borrowed from the city of Foley. The businesses would only be allowed in B-2, general business or light industrial zoning districts.
Within those districts, the businesses would be prohibited:
Within 1,000 feet of a residential zoning district, residential area or planned unit development.
1. Within 1,000 feet of a pre-existing residence inside the nonresidential zones.
2. Within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, school, park, museum, library, cemetery or funeral home.
3. Within 2,000 feet of any other sexually oriented business.
4. Within the same building as another sexually oriented business.
The ordinance also contains extensive provisions about who may operate such a business, calls for background checks, and requires a $3,000 nonrefundable application fee.