JACKSONVILLE, FL — (09-13-21) — Owners of a dozen Jacksonville adult stores selling sex toys and adult-themed products are asking U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan for protection from zoning citations their lawyers have called harassment by the City Council’s zoning board.

“Although there has been no change in the substantive law … the city suddenly decided several months ago that plaintiffs are ‘adult bookstores’,” which are subject to tighter zoning restrictions, argues a motion the stores’ lawyers filed seeking an injunction.

Since then, the adult stores’ lawyers argue, “the city has cited and harassed each of the plaintiffs in an effort to force them to close and relocate.”

Jacksonville Officials Harass Adult BusinAdd Newesses over Zoning Code

The companies operate under the store names Adult Fantasy Store, Adam & Eve, Exotic Fantasies Inc, Inserection Adult Fantasy Store, Sunset Novelties, and Temptations Novelties & Gifts.

The businesses have asked U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan for an order saying the city council’s adult entertainment code is unconstitutionally vague and broad.

City attorneys haven’t responded to the lawsuit yet and Corrigan hasn’t scheduled a hearing on the adult stores’ injunction request.

The businesses sued the city last month over a change they say followed the City Council’s passage of a bill (Ord. 2020-704-E) moving city rules for adult bookstores and adult movie theaters into its zoning code.

The ordinance didn’t change the rules for adult businesses, the lawsuit says, but “the practical effect … was that a new group of city officials was charged with enforcing the … provisions.”

The suit contends zoning officials have been reading the law wrong, ignoring an exemption for “percentage stores,” places where adult-oriented merchandise occupies less than 40 percent of the inventory or display area.

The store owners argue separately that all but one of the businesses (Exotic Fantasies) are exempt from being considered adult businesses.

Citing a 2008 court case involving the owner of Inserection, located at 5110 University Blvd. W., argues that “prior litigation … established the principle that percentage stores operated in the same fashion … are to be treated as generic retail stores and not as ‘adult bookstores.’”

The suit says the businesses have operated for years without being accused of running adult entertainment businesses.

In the lawsuit filed, the lawyers argued that “the city has no substantial interest in regulating percentage stores which have a two-decade track record of responsible operations and which are clearly distinguishable from adult bookstores and other adult businesses.”

We will continue to follow this case and bring you new details as they become available.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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