By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Adult entertainment owners say new law would hurt
Placeholder Image
Tru Playas owner Calvin Barrett said his thriving 10-year-old business will be severely impaired if he’s required to comply with the Liberty County commissioners’ proposed changes in the county’s adult entertainment ordinance.
“If you change that ordinance … within six months to a year, my doors will be closed,” Barrett said. “Without a doubt — my finance[s], my livelihood is over.”
Constituents were allowed to comment on the possible zoning and licensing requirement changes Thursday during a public hearing.
County attorney Kelly Davis said two existing adult clubs, Tru Playas and Silver Dollar Lounge, would be grandfathered in under the zoning ordinance, but the alcohol licensing alterations may force the establishments to change the way they do business.
The clubs must choose to either have nude dancing with no alcohol or to sell alcohol and have dancers wear some clothing. Tru Playas sells alcohol and has nude dancing.
Attorney Kimberly Copeland, who is representing Tru Playas, said the club’s owner will be forced to choose between two potentially damaging options.  
 “When you go in the entertainment business, if you choose that career, their uniform is what they were birthed in,” she said.
The ordinance would give existing establishments up to a year to comply with new requirements.
Copeland also said she thinks the ordinance might violate the club’s property rights.
“We feel that for the board to affect a business that’s been in existence as long as Tru Playas would be an individual taking of  their constitutional right to enjoy their business,” Copeland said.
“It’s not saying that we’re trying to put them out of business,” said commission Chairman John McIver of the draft ordinance. “It’s that we’re trying to bring a little more standard to the operation.”
But morality has no place in government, according to Copeland.
“When we’re constructing ordinances, I don’t think moral beliefs need get in to it,” Copeland said. “We’re not saying this is a family place.”
“We, as elected officials, understand that morality is a private luxury,” said Commissioner Gary Gillard. “Before anything is done, it will be well thought out by this board.”
Commissioner Connie Thrift said she thinks morality should be considered, given her obligation to serve as the voice of the citizens she represents.
“But it’s about those that are wanting to come into Liberty County. It’s about the growth that we are going to experience, other establishments that may want to come in to our county,” Thrift said.
Area resident Curtis Velasco said he has never been to the strip club off Highway 84, but did not see a problem with it.
“It’s a tax-paying business. It’s contributing … it’s putting people to work,” Velasco said. “If it serves a purpose, then we should be supportive.”
Commissioner Marion Stevens asked if the existing businesses could be grandfathered in “100 percent.”
“They’ve done a well job in protecting people who do not want to go there,” Stevens said of Tru Playas and Silver Dollar Lounge.
Davis said that could be problematic, as it might give an unfair advantage to future businesses.
At McIver’s request, Davis said he will research the possibility and initiate discussions with Barrett and Copeland to help clarify the ordinance.
Davis will report back to the commission by next month’s meeting.
Velasco said he thinks he should be able to “go where I want to go and do what I want to do,” should he choose to frequent one of the clubs in question.
“That’s what American democracy is all about — choice,” Velasco said.
Sign up for our e-newsletters