Gold Club loses motion to stop Horry County from enforcing adult business laws

mprabhu@thesunnews.comMarch 29, 2014 

A federal judge Friday denied a request for an injunction from the owners of The Gold Club that would have required Horry County to stop enforcing new adult entertainment laws.

The owners of The Gold Club requested the preliminary injunction to keep the county from enforcing the new laws on two of his businesses, one on U.S. 501 near the Myrtle Beach city limits and another on Restaurant Row.

The club owners argued that the erotic dance performances that had been presented at the club for eight years were constitutionally protected under the First Amendment. The Gold Club owner Mike Rose has said his businesses have operated as a go-go bar since the new laws went into effect in December.

Rose could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Judge Mary G. Lewis ruled Friday that the club did not show that erotic dance performances “falls only within the outer ambit of the First Amendment’s protection” and therefore “enjoys less protection than does pure speech and restrictions on its exercise are more likely to be constitutionally permissible,” according to court documents.

In her opinion, Lewis wrote that regulating erotic dance performance might be “necessary to protect other legitimate interest,” such as crime rates, property values and the quality of neighborhoods surrounding the clubs.

On Sept. 3, the County Council passed a zoning ordinance and a conduct ordinance. The new zoning ordinance restricts adult-themed businesses to one of three zoned areas in the county – highway commercial, limited industrial and heavy industrial. It also forces the businesses to be at least 1,500 feet from residential properties, churches, daycares and the like, which will effectively make every adult business in unincorporated Horry County in violation unless they change their current operations.

The conduct ordinance prevents adult-themed businesses from being open between midnight and 6 a.m. The ordinance also sets stricter rules for businesses with viewing booths and prevents nudity in gentleman’s clubs. It also states semi-nudity is OK if employees are six feet from patrons on a stage that is at least 18 inches high.

Gold Club filed a motion the day after the laws were passed seeking the preliminary injunction as well as a temporary restraining order. Lewis denied the restraining order Sept. 9.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her on Twitter @TSN_MPrabhu.

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