Murfreesboro Proposes Amendments to Adult Regulations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The City Council and the Planning Commission for Murfreesboro heard testimony Monday from pundits on the theoretical "negative secondary effects" of adult business on a community, according to The Murfreesboro Post, in a joint meeting to discuss amendments the city is proposing to its ordinance regulating such businesses.

One person consulted, Ball State University professor of urban planning Eric Damian Kelly, told the assembled officials that "you must allow for a reasonable number of sites" where an adult business may operate, quoting that number as between 20 and 30.

"Courts have made it clear that you have to make room for these businesses in your community," Kelly said.

Murfreesboro currently restricts adult businesses to areas designated as heavy industrial zones, and does not allow them within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, stores selling alcohol or city-owned properties. The amendments proposed by the city to its adult business ordinance include evidence of "negative secondary effects" and a classification guideline defining an adult business as one generating at least 20 percent of its revenue from the sale of adult merchandise.

The "negative secondary effects" posed by an adult business, some maintain, include increased crime, reduced property values and a lower quality of life.

The Murfreesboro Planning Commission plans to hold a public hearing Dec. 5 on the proposed amendments. The city filed suit in February against Raymond Vincent Bohannon, owner of 21 Up Movies & More, for unlawfully opening his store in a commercial highway district, and Bohannon countersued under the contention that Murfreesboro's definition of an "adults-only bookstore" in its zoning ordinance is "unconstitutional and unenforceable." Bohannon further argued that the Tennessee Supreme Court had struck down the same language as used by the city of Knoxville.

Kelly advised the Murfreesboro officials that with the city's growth and the number of blue collar jobs held by its residents, the community should expect an increased number of adult businesses attempting to enter the market.