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County commissioners consider a proposed adult novelty store

Bulloch County attorney Charles Brown told the board of commissioners that, in his opinion, a proposed adult novelty shop would fall under the county's Adult Entertainment ordinance and require a conditional use variance before it could open.
    Brown told the board that based on a list of items expected to be sold in the store, it was his opinion that it would need be licensed by the county.
     He also said the board would have to approve a conditional use variance for the location on Highway 67 near the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds before the store could open.
    The proposed store, which would be called Sugar and Spice Novelties, is the idea of Jonathan Thompson of Guyton. In a letter to the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners, he wrote "We plan to set up and operate this store in a tasteful, unoffending manner."
    Thompson also wrote saying that customers in Bulloch County who want the kinds of items he'd like to sell have to drive 40 to 50 miles out of town to do so, taking away tax dollars.
    Brown and Jeff Akins, staff attorney for the board, both indicated Thompson may not pursue the matter after hearing Brown's and Akins' interpretation of the county's ordinance requirements. However, Brown felt it was important to let the commissioners know what they had discussed in a public forum.
    Commissioner George Jackson said that based on what he knew of the proposed store, it could lead to "deviant behavior," while Commissioner Roy Thompson said "I hope we can lawfully keep these kinds of businesses closed."
    Under the county's ordinance, if a store has five percent or more of its floor space devoted to adult videos or DVDs or 20 percent of its floor space dedicated to adult books, it is considered an adult entertainment establishment and must be licensed.
    Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board approved a contract with Hussey, Gay, Bell and DeYoung for preliminary work on the county's Agriculture Arena.
    County Manager Tom Couch said it would be a standard contract and the work to be done was to come up with preliminary design as well as help determine a cost estimate for the project.
    Tuesday's meeting also marked the final one for longtime commissioner Bill Smith, who chose not to seek reelection. He reminded the board members that they are there to serve the public.
    "It's been a real pleasure serving the citizens of Bulloch County," he said. "The big thing to remember is that we are public servants and we're here for their interests and not ours," he said.
    Several of the commissioners offered their gratitude to Smith for his service and the lessons they learned from him.
    Prior to the start of the meeting, incumbents Walter Gibson and Anthony Simmons as well as newly elected commissioner Robert Rushing took the oath of office for the term starting in January. They were sworn in by Probate Court Judge Lee DeLoach.

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