BRADENTON -- One would have to guess what the County Commissioners think about sexually oriented businesses, but this much is clear - they know where they don't want them. Thursday's vote to amend the Land Development Code, making it illegal for sexually-oriented busninesses to serve alcohol, leaves area "topless bars" challenged.
Luke Lirot, Attorney for the applicant, GT Management (DaVinci's Portrait) requested commissioners put off making any decision on the ordinance. Lirot claimed it shouldn't even be a land use issue, that it fell under a different code. He also wanted the decision to be rescheduled to a date that would allow an after 5 p.m. time frame because many that wanted to speak couldn't make it during the day.
Lirot also claimed that his client's business has never gotten a complaint, and that they offered economic benefit equating to millions of dollars. He later asserted that the business made somewhere between six to seven hundred thousand dollars a year. Lirot said, "These establishments are not being judged fairly," suggesting the commission should reconsider the proposed changes, adding, "they were not legal maneuvers" and that he would have no other choice but to defend his client's position in court.
County attorneys said that the 2005 challenge to the ordinance ended favorably for the commission, and that the decision had been challenged at every level in the courts and they were confident in the outcome.
Thomas Little, representing the land owners, Ft. Chaffe LLC, came forward and stated that if DaVinci's was unable to fulfill their lease obligation because of the ordinance changes, he would be forced to try and retrieve what his client had lost by way of the Bert Harris Act."
With the new ordinance, DaVinci's will lose their license to sell alcohol. Sexually oriented businesses are finding it increasingly more difficult to operate in certain parts of town and they say that they generally don't survive without the alcohol sales.