(WVLT) - After over two years of legal fights, Knox County, U.S. district court judges have finally validated an ordinance that regulates sexually oriented businesses.
In 2005, the ordinance was passed by county commission, but the county was sued because three businesses said it violated their constitutional rights.
"Now we have something in place that they will play by our rules, not their rules." Says Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale.
In a first for Knox County, sexually oriented businesses have 30 days from Tuesday to submit license applications. One for the business and one for each employee.
Applications need to be renewed each year.
They will provide the county a look at who is operating the establishment.
Ragsdale says, "We're going to use this step to help control their activities and to eliminate all the things that john spoke of that can do nothing for the public good."
The county hopes to control secondary problems they say come with some of these businesses, such as personal and property crimes, prostitution, obscenity and drug trafficking.
Routine inspections will be made, and if code enforcement officers feel someone is in violation the business could face a hearing.
The business could then face the risk of losing their license or a 50 dollar fine.
Knox County's Senior Director of Engineering and Public Works, Bruce Wuethrich, says, "The adoption of this ordinance also has a huge impact on anyone who wants to open a new business. There are some very stringent setbacks that have to be met."
The county is in the process of notifying businesses who are now considered sexually oriented.
Mayor Ragsdale says, "As a community we need to have very tight standards as it relates to adult bookstore establishments."
Mayor Ragsdale will appoint a hearing officer within 15 days and take his recommendation to the county commission in January.
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