By Valerie Baldowski
Two Henry County pastors have put the City of McDonough on notice that they will oppose any changes to the existing adult entertainment ordinance that will make it easier for such establishments to locate in the city.
While City Manager Billy Beckett has declared that no changes have been sought to the ordinance, Rev. Roy Mack, of the Pinecrest Baptist Church, along with the Rev. Archie Norman, of the Henry Baptist Church, have announced their intentions to challenge any future changes to the ordinance.
"I personally have received no public input other than a question or two, as to ... the need to modify the ordinance," said McDonough City Administrator Billy Beckett. He added that the city must make allowances for businesses specializing in adult entertainment.
Beckett noted that the existing adult entertainment ordinance, which was amended in June, follows "consistent judicial rulings, and on the advice of counsel. We need to reasonably accommodate such activities within the context of our zoning ordinances, or open the city to the undesirable possibility of a court-ordered location, at substantial cost and risk to the city," Beckett said.
"If there is, indeed, an adult entertainment establishment attempting to locate in our area, we would trust that our elected officials would come in agreement that it would not be in the best interest of the citizens," said Rev. Mack. "We believe it would, indeed, be a detriment to our community and its image, and we, as a church, would strongly oppose such an establishment coming to our area."
The pastor, whose church is located at 175 Foster Drive, in McDonough, said he has heard that an adult entertainment business -- which he did not name, nor specify the exact nature of the business -- is looking to submit an application to operate in McDonough.
Rev. Norman, whose church is at 4035 Jodeco Road, said he has spoken with Mayor Billy Copeland about adult entertainment businesses coming to McDonough, and gotten an explanation of the existing ordinance.
Norman said his concern about the status of the ordinance comes after a (church) member raised the issue last month. He said he wanted to add his name to the list of those opposed to any pending applications by adult entertainment businesses interested in operating in McDonough. Norman acknowledged that no revision of the law has been placed on the agenda for formal city council discussions.
"I'm not saying there's someone trying to do something wrong, there's just some confusion about it," said Norman. "I'm not upset or angry. My understanding is, the ordinance was passed in order to protect our community."
The McDonough City Council revised a section of the ordinance in June to ban alcohol from adult entertainment establishments, and required such businesses to operate in designated areas.
Talks on the adult entertainment ordinance may surface again in the future, said Beckett. "There is no provision that would currently permit the sale of alcoholic beverages in such establishments, under the ordinance passed," said the city administrator. "That does not preclude the possibility of future discussion generated by external parties. I cannot speak to the question of plans to discuss the ordinance further -- any ordinance can be opened for discussion at any time, and there are multiple reasons for doing so."
The ordinance is available for public viewing, said McDonough Chief Planner Rodney Heard. "Concerned parties may view the ordinance in question online, via [the] city web site, or review [and] obtain a hard copy from the city clerk," Heard said. "[The] boundaries are as defined in the ordinance. At this time, there have only been discussions of possible changes, no formal actions."