Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Judge deals setback to sex businesses
She upholds city's rule to move establishments away from schools and churches

Some of Houston's best-known topless clubs might have to relocate because of a federal judge's recent ruling, city officials said Monday.

In the latest decision on local regulation of sexually oriented businesses, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas has ruled the city can double, from 750 to 1,500 feet, the distance required between the clubs and "sensitive" areas including schools and churches.

That new requirement could imperil dozens of topless clubs and adult book stores.

Atlas wrote that the ordinance, passed in 1997, didn't violate the businesses' First Amendment rights because alternate sites are available where they could relocate and comply with the regulations.

The businesses could appeal last week's ruling, preventing immediate enforcement. Attorneys for those businesses, who filed suit over the ordinance in 1997, couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
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