Adult store closed by Commission fights back

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, October 29, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---You've probably driven by the abandoned adult bookstore with the big American flag. After nearly four years out of business, store owners are fighting to re-open.

Denise Arrington worked at X-Mart for 8 months. She says she looks forward to the day when the doors re-open. "It's a great place. It's not just what society thinks it's about as far as sex is concerned. It's more than that."

It is an adult entertainment store the city shut down back in 2003, citing zoning issues. But last month, a three judge panel ruled zoning issues would no longer fly. This puts owners one step closer to opening back up.

"If you take your daughter in there to teach her about her body it's a good thing," Denise said.

The city says a not so good thing is the location of the store.

"One of my biggest problems is just the fact that it's a gateway into the city, and that's the first impression that people get coming in from the airport," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

"It's a win-win situation for both of us, because the area is in growth mode," said local hotel owner Ray Usman. "I think as they open it will generate more traffic and it will generate more business for my business."

But first, X-Mart attorneys tell News 12 they will proceed with a previously filed suit for damages and attorney fees in federal court. They say the outcome of that will determine the next course of action.

Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams says the whole thing is going too far. "We're going to end up losing a lot of money now if we don't go ahead and just say, 'Ya'll stay to yourself.' If people don't support it, they're going to go out of business."

The city licensing department tells News 12 they would have recommended not granting the store a license. In a letter to the store's attorney the city says the store is too close to school bus stops and too close to what they call a city gateway. Another issue: alleged sex acts at the store in 2003.

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