Augusta is looking to loosen some of its laws without loosening too much clothing.
Augusta’s Public Services Committee on Tuesday approved some slight changes to the city’s ordinance regarding adult entertainment rules and regulations.
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If approved, erotic dancers will be allowed to perform throughout the club, including one-on-one dances and not just on platforms, so long as they are in public view. The language on touching was also changed, from not allowing dancers to touch themselves or patrons to “no patron shall fondle or caress any dancer, or use any clothing or inanimate object to do such.”
Multiple rules surrounding dancer behavior would also be removed, such as not permitting dancers within 10 feet of patrons, only allowing tips to be given in a dancer’s garter, and not allowing dancers to mingle unclothed with patrons.
Additional changes were tentatively approved regarding adult business locations. Two or more sexually-oriented businesses may be located within 500 feet of each other, as opposed to 1,000 feet, and the distance shall be measured along the existing right-of-way as opposed to a straight line. There were also several slight decreases in the distances these establishments can be from popular gateways and corridors like the ones at Gordon Highway/Doug Barnard Parkway and I‐20/Riverwatch Parkway.
Another change that could ease issues with incoming adult businesses is that the nonrefundable application fee has been reduced from $2,500 to $500 while also increasing the fee for violating these laws from $1,000 to $2,000.
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While some of the restrictions have loosened, these businesses, especially strip clubs, still have some heavy regulations. Augusta will still not allow strip clubs to serve liquor, so any future clubs that want to offer nude dancing will have to do so without serving alcohol. Also, no adult-entertainment businesses are allowed outside areas designated heavy-industrial or light-industrial. Generally speaking, heavy-industrial and light-industrial areas are those with predominantly manufacturing businesses and little residential/commercial activity.
These restrictions are why Augusta’s last two strip clubs, Discotheque Lounge and Joker’s Lounge, which are located on Broad Street, were only allowed to stay open and serve alcohol if their dancers stayed clothed. At their current spot in the downtown metropolitan area, they will not be able to change that without further reform.
The approved changes are set to be considered for final approval by the Augusta Commission during its next meeting at 2 p.m. Dec. 6.