Harlem city officials took action Monday night to regulate adult entertainment businesses inside the city before the need arises.
The city council voted at Monday's meeting to approve an ordinance not prohibiting, but strictly regulating, any adult entertainment business within the city limits.
Though there currently are no adult entertainment businesses in the city, including adult bookstores, dancing establishments or theaters, the ordinance was passed as a precaution, Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said.
"We are trying to be proactive to make sure that we don't have to deal with things like what Richmond County has had to deal with the adult entertainment," Dean said, adding the ordinance is similar to that of Columbia County's.
"You do not outlaw these establishments from being in place, but you make it so complicated for them to find a spot that it is prohibitively restrictive."
The ordinance requires adult entertainment businesses to operate on at least one acre and at least 1,000 feet from residences, churches, schools, libraries, playgrounds, hospitals, parks, nursing homes, government buildings, other adult entertainment establishments and from any business selling alcohol.
Owners are also charged a $2,000 annual permit renewal fee.
"This doesn't guarantee we won't get a business like this, but it makes it less likely we will get one," Councilman Tom Blalock said.
In other action at the meeting, the council agreed to draft a mutual aid agreement with Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue because city officials have decided not to renew a contract to provide fire service on a pay-per-call basis to an area south of the city.
Martinez-Columbia will serve the residents in that southern area starting Dec. 31.
"We will respond as secondary responders to structure fires or fires (Martinez-Columbia) needs our help with and life-threatening emergency-type calls," said Councilman John Thigpen, the chairman of the city's Public Safety Committee. "We would be the secondary responder, not the primary."
The council also voted to raise the cost of building permits in the city. The city contracts building inspections to Columbia County building officials, and the county will be raising its costs at the first of the year.
"Columbia County is who we use to do our building inspections," Dean said, adding that the base price is going from $35 to $40. "As the new subdivisions are coming in, we are going to use them a whole lot more."
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