Missouri county seeks strict limit on sexual businesses

HILLSBORO, Mo. (AP) — New strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses in an area south of St. Louis could face limits on their operating hours that go beyond an already restrictive state law.

Proposed regulations in Jefferson County would require new adult entertainment businesses to close between 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. If adopted, that would exceed the mandates of a 2010 state law that such businesses close between midnight and 6 a.m.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Wednesday that the Jefferson County proposal also would go beyond the requirements in St. Charles County, which currently are the most stringent in the St. Louis area. That county requires sexually oriented businesses to close between 11 p.m. and 9 a.m.

The Jefferson County proposal would affect only new businesses in unincorporated parts of the county. Councilwoman Terri Kreitler, who is sponsoring the proposal, said about a half dozen such businesses currently operate there and she doesn’t want to see more arrive.

“They are lewd and awful. I’m talking nasty stuff,” said Kreitler.

“We want a better reputation,” she said.

Jefferson County Sheriff Oliver “Glenn” Boyer said he hasn’t had significant problems with the adult businesses, but he also doesn’t have the officers to do many routine checks on them. He said most of the calls for police service at such businesses happen late at night.

Mike Ocello, who is president of VGA Holding Corp. which owns several adult entertainment businesses nationwide, said he’s troubled by the growth of restrictions on his industry. He said forcing such businesses to close early would be economically damaging because many people like to frequent them late at night.

Ocello, of Mehlville, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Missouri’s new law, which not only limits hours, but also prohibits full nudity and alcohol at adult stores and strip clubs. A Cole County judge upheld the law in a decision earlier this year, but the case is on appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court.

The lawsuit contends Missouri’s law violates First Amendment freedoms of speech and expression and was passed in violation of the Missouri Constitution because a legislative committee didn’t meet to hear a challenge to its estimated financial impact. Attorneys representing Missouri have argued that similar laws have been upheld elsewhere and said the Legislature can choose not to follow its own procedures.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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