Permit fee for sexually oriented businesses to triple
Commissioners court making ordinance on adult businesses more stringent

Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Jan. 13, 2005 -- County commissioners are set to put more teeth into regulations governing the operation of sexually oriented businesses in the county.

The county's regulations came into play in June of 2003 when an adult book and video store opened on Interstate 30 at FM 900 on the southern edge of Saltillo.

With indications of continued growth in the county, much of it coming from Dallas, commissioners said it was time to take a more firm stance in the regulations of the adult businesses before such businesses make a move into the county.

In a conference Friday morning, Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said the court's action was being taken in order to protect and preserve health, safety and the welfare of patrons of such businesses as well as citizens of Hopkins County.

"The commissioners find that sexually oriented businesses can potentially be used for unlawful businesses, including prostitution, sexual liaisons of a casual nature," the judge said. "The concerns over sexually transmitted diseases is a legitimate health concern of the county that demands reasonable regulation of sexually oriented businesses in order to protect the health and well-being of the citizens."

Licensing of the adult-oriented businesses, according to the new court order, is a reasonable and legitimate way of making those businesses accountable to ensure that operators do not knowingly allow their establishments to be used as places of illegal sexual activity or solicitation.

Members of the commissioners court agreed that such businesses, due to their nature, can present serious and objectionable characteristics, particularly when they are located close together. Such clustering, the court members said, would contribute to "urban and rural blight and downgrading the quality of life in the adjacent area."

With only one such adult business in the county, county officials say they are unaware of any problems other than objections from residents in Saltillo.

"Currently, we only know of the one sexually oriented business that is located in Saltillo," Millsap said. "I don't know of any problems that anyone has, other than the folks in Saltillo that don't want this sexually oriented business."

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