Georgia legislators consider zoning restrictions for nude-dancing clubs

Monday, January 31, 2000

A bill in the Georgia Senate would allow cities and counties to enact zoning laws restricting the location of nude-dancing clubs the same way they do adult bookstores and adult theaters.

The measure, introduced Jan. 13 by state Sen. Donzella James, would enable governing officials of a county or municipality to restrict the location of nude-dancing clubs but that those clubs “shall not be located within 1,000 feet of any school building, school grounds, college campus, public place of worship, or area zoned primarily for residential purposes.”

James said that “the goal is not to stifle any First Amendment free-expression rights but to protect children.”

James, who lives in College Park, said the bill would expand on a 1997 state law that restricts the location of other adult businesses, such as adult bookstores and theaters.

“I had a big problem with these businesses in my community, and I wanted to do something to help the situation,” she said.

However, attorney Cary Wiggins, who represents several nude-dancing clubs in Atlanta, questions the constitutionality of the bill. “The bill's definition of 'nude dancing' is most certainly unconstitutional for its overbreadth,” he said.

The bill defines a nude-dancing club as “any business establishment which features an exhibition of nudity, partial nudity, or the depiction of nudity as entertainment.”

Wiggins questioned whether the bill would have much of an effect if enacted because “counties and municipalities routinely enact distance requirements against nude-dancing establishments.”

James expects some opposition from the adult-business industry, but says she is not worried. “I am not worried because I have the support of Christian groups, neighborhood associations and regular citizens who want protection from these businesses,” she said.

The bill has been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has not yet set a hearing date.