New Bill Aims To Limit Adult Businesses

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - From liquor restrictions to 6-foot-rules, city and county officials have tried all sorts of ways to stop strip clubs and adult book stores, only to face free speech challenges.

But as Volunteer TV's Gordon Boyd reports, one Knoxville area state senator believes Tennessee can avoid such challenges with a state law that makes such businesses keep their distance.

In many cases, signs offer fair warning, what's beyond the door.

"I think things are going fine. I don't think there's too much of a problem," says Knox County resident Will Fletcher.

But for some folks, "I think they need to be further way, I don't think they need to be there at all," says India McDowell.

There's no such thing as strip joints, or adult book stores, keeping a safe distance.

"They don't need those things around schools and young adults," says Anthony Waag.

"Because in some cases, I think they act on that," adds Barbara Ashworth.

Senator Tim Burchett's bill would draw a line, banning new adult businesses within a quarter mile of a child care facility, private-public or charter school, playground, house or other residential facility, or place of worship.

Senate committee members have cut that to a thousand feet, which sounds like a lot, but the difference in distance, from the statewide standard of a thousand feet? Roughly, the length of a football field.

"It's as the crow flies," says Senator Tim Burchett. "If you draw a circle, around the thousand foot diameter, and it falls within that area, it applies. I'd like to put them out of business, but I don't think that's going to happen."

It won't. Burchett's bill couldn't be retroactive.

Intimate Treasures still could sell lingerie and sex toys directly across from Bearden Elementary School. The Adult Superstore can sell triple X videos in the shadows of Concord Mennonite Church.

"I think if everybody could get placated, that's really what they need to accomplish," Fletcher says.

Seems unlikely.

"Unfortunately, I can't go back in time, because that's unconstitutional," Burchett says. "They'll change ownership periodically for tax reasons, and when they do, that's when we got 'em."

As for them, the clubs and books stores we contacted, they haven't bared a comment.

The "thousand foot rule" already applies to new adult-oriented businesses in Knox County.

Burchett's bill could go before the full Tennessee Senate next week.


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