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County discusses Adult Entertainment Board members

Posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 8:00 am


Did you know Bedford County has an Adult Entertainment Board?

Essentially, they have the authority to license and regulate adult oriented establishments and entertainers before requests are sent up the chain to the County Commission for final approval.

It works similar to a Beer Board for zoning purposes. Except, instead of beer, the board deals with requests for…ahem…massage parlors, sex stores, night clubs, etc.

The need to appointment members to the board was brought up during last Tuesday night’s Board of County Commissioners meeting as a “housekeeping” issue.

While working to update bylaws specifically related to boards, it was noted that at one time there was an Adult Entertainment Board.  According to TCA 7-5-1101 et seq, the board will consist of five members, appointed by the county mayor, who serve for terms of four years.

The Adult-Oriented Establishment Registration Act was created in 1998 and serves as the primary state law that grants counties the authority to license and regulate these adult establishments.

This act replaces a former act, which was declared unconstitutional by a federal district court in Brothers Three Enterprises v. Knox County from Feb. 4, 1991.

So, on April 13, 1999, the County Commission passed a Resolution to Establish an Adult Entertainment Board that had five members.

Suzanne Alexander, Executive Coordinator at the County Mayor’s Office, said former county mayor Jimmy Woodson named the members to the board in May 1999. One of those first members was Commissioner Linda Yockey.

However, after it was established, there was never any other mention of this board in meeting minutes.

The reason being, according to Yockey, was because they never had any requests. There are also no known adult-oriented entertainment and massage parlors in the county.

“So, it’s on like an as-needed basis,” said Yockey.

Yockey, along with County Zoning Director Chris White, were going through the bylaws when it “popped” up on them.

“I’ve been working on the bylaws forever,” said Yockey. “So I wanted to add that as one of the boards and committees. Suzanne and I have been researching that it’s still five members and things like that.”

Yockey explained that in zoning, you can’t turn down someone down without a reason.

Yockey explained, “In other words, there has to be a place in your zoning document where it is allowed. Where it’s allowed and it meets the criteria, the planning board has to approve.”

But that doesn’t mean the county commission would vote for a zoning change.

“So, there, probably in this county it would stop. It would be very difficult to establish one of these things,” said Yockey.

These adult entertainment facilities are also only permitted in “Special Impact Industrial Districts” (M-2). According to the county’s zoning handbook, these proposed sites “will be located in areas apart from concentrations of residential developments and community facilities where concentrations of people will live.”

Other common sites in these M-2 areas include fireworks manufacturing, solid waste landfills and processing, scrap yards, and arsenals.

Adult-oriented business establishments can also not be located within 2,000 feet of residences, churches, or schools, or next to other similar adult establishments. The zoning book also requires vegetation or an ornamental fence to screen the business from view of a public right-of-way and other properties.