McDonough County State’s Attorney James Hoyle said he wrote a McDonough County Adult Use Licensing Ordinance in 2009, but it went nowhere with the county board.
“Originally when I provided it to our county board chairman (Scott Schwerer) … he returned it back to me and informed me that McDonough County didn’t need another ten page ordinance and that he felt it was the start of zoning,” said Hoyle.
He said other county board members also feared it would be the first step toward zoning. Hoyle said it was not zoning – it was designed to deal with one particular issue, adult use.
But because county board members chose not to consider the ordinance, there are no county regulations in place for Wildlife, an adult entertainment club that opened last weekend on Route 136 between Macomb and Colchester.
Hoyle said he felt the county needed some rules to regulate development that he believed would come with construction of the four-lane Route 336. He said he spent about six months researching and writing the adult use ordinance, referring to numerous studies done on strip clubs.
“All the studies conclude that with a strip bar comes other types of crime such as prostitution and drug use,” he said.
His adult entertainment ordinance would have implemented a four-foot rule so there would be no touching.
The county board chairman would have served as the county’s adult use commissioner, who would lead the adult use commission.
The ordinance also called for the licensing of establishments, which would be required to pay an annual administrative license fee of $1,200. Inspections would have been allowed any time an establishment was occupied or open for business.
Hoyle said he could not write an ordinance to ban such clubs because dancing is a protected form of free speech.
And he said even if regulations were adopted today, they would not apply to Wildlife because it’s already open and would be grandfathered under the current rules (or lack thereof).
Hoyle said the club does not have a liquor license but patrons can bring in their own drinks. He fears people will drink “to excess” elsewhere and then go to Wildlife and “…misbehave like they do in Gulfport.” But he said there is little he can do unless they break the law.
Schwerer did not return a call seeking comment.