The latest according to the AJC:

The federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge of a lower court ruling by the owner of the Love Shack, an adult-themed store in Johns Creek.

The decision resolved a narrow question of the larger case, which sits before Federal District Judge Thomas Thrash. No date has been set to hear the main case, which focuses on whether Fulton County improperly denied the Love Shack a business license. The Love Shack opened in November 2006, days before the community of Johns Creek became a legal city. Because it was still in what was then unincorporated Fulton County, the Love Shack sued the county in federal court to make the government give it a business license. The county counter-sued to obtain a federal order to close down the store.

Last December, Thrash ruled the Love Shack is an adult store operating without proper permits, but then said it could operate if it significantly reduced the amount of adult material. But he put a three-week time limit on the order.

The owner of the Love Shack, John Cornetta, appealed to reverse Thrash’s decision, saying the judge’s ruling was too vague, and Fulton County should have pursued remedies in state courts first.

In a two-paragraph ruling on Dec. 17, the appellate court dismissed Cornetta’s appeal out of hand, and said it was all moot anyway because Thrash’s order to close the store expired Jan. 5.

In the meantime, while the appeal is pending, the store remains open.

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According to this Johns Creek Herald article, Mr. Cornetta is suing the City of Johns Creek to get a sign. It will be interesting to see how much in damages Mr. Cornetta will be claiming. Will Mr. Cornetta have to show how much (or little) in sales the Johns Creek Love Shack is generating to get a monetary award from the City if he wins?  Or is Mr. Cornetta bluffing when it comes to suing for damages?  Is Mr. Cornetta open to letting the City of Johns Creek pour through his financial records?  Only time will tell!!!
Mr. Cornetta’s logic is simple, since Johns Creek’s ordinance does not state that you must have a business license to get a sign permit. The City’s position is that since it is not a legal busines it is not a entitled to a sign.

It is interesting that on the first line of the sign permit application it asks for the business license number:

http://johnscreekga.gov/pdf/forms/pz/SignPermitApplication2007-Jun.pdf

So while a business license is not a requirement by the sign ordinance according to Mr. Cornetta, it is required on the sign permit form.

 

The Love Shack has filed its first lawsuit against Johns Creek, naming in the suit specific city staff members for denying the adult business’s applications for sign and banner permits.

For months, the only indication of the Love Shack’s location at 10950 State Bridge Road has been a relatively small banner above the door. The Love Shack’s general manager has been cited on a regular basis for various banners since June 27. The city’s sign ordinance says that each day of a violation constitutes a separate offense – the number of violations totaled more than 80 by the end of August.

The Love Shack’s petition to Fulton County Superior Court is similar to that filed by a billboard company against the city earlier this year, which if granted in favor of the Love Shack, could force Sam Bishop, senior planner for the city, to give the business a sign permit.

Bishop is named literally because he signed the Aug. 3 denial letter sent to Love Shack owner John Cornetta. Bishop’s letter stated it is not “appropriate to issue a sign permit” because Cornetta had been denied a business license for the Love Shack. A second letter was sent the same day denying a banner permit for the same reason.

The Love Shack’s petition to Fulton County Superior Court says Bishop’s denial is based on “arbitrary criteria” and asks the court to declare that decision as beyond the scope of his power. Neither the city’s sign ordinance nor its zoning ordinance states a business license as prerequisite for a sign or banner permit.

The city’s sign ordinance states that the community development director shall deny “any application that is incomplete or inaccurate, contains false statements or omissions, or that is for a sign which would violate any standard within [the sign ordinance].”

Cornetta’s attorney, Cary Wiggins, states in the petition that the city has acted contrary to the law in denying its sign application because Love Shack meets the criteria of the sign ordinance.


But the city has a different take on that, citing the absence of logic in that argument.

“What’s the logic of issuing a sign to a business that does not have a license and is in essence operating illegally,” said Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker.

Cornetta said that’s not a legal argument. He said it’s the mayor and City Council’s job to create that law, instead of just saying it.

The Love Shack’s lawsuit also asks the court to quash the subsequent denial by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), and likewise it names the specific board members.

The board denied in October the Love Shack’s appeal to reverse the Community Development Department’s denial, citing the same reason given by Bishop.

The Love Shack’s petition says the BZA did not disclose any “facts or law” to support its decision, and thus the court should reverse it. Wiggins said last month he was not surprised by the board’s decision to uphold the denial.

The Superior Court has to hear the case. Neither party can submit further findings or call witnesses during the hearing, and the judge will be confined to only the information on the record produced by the BZA.

“I think it is a fairly narrow question,” said Wiggins. “The reason they denied the sign and banner permit are for reasons that appear nowhere in the code. I am comfortable that a court will recognize that.”

Lastly, the petition states the denial of the Love Shack’s constitutional rights entitles the store to recover lost income, due to the lack of a sign for months, and attorney fees.

“The city treated every other business in Johns Creek that applied at that time as equal citizens and gave them sign permits. For us, they wouldn’t. So is there damage? I think so,” said Cornetta.

The city must answer the petition within 30 calendar days from Nov. 19, the date the city was served, but is not uncommon for parties to request more time.

While Mr. Cornetta claims that it is the lack of signage that is costing him sales at his Johns Creek store, industry trends may be the real reason for the empty parking lot. It seems that Mr. Cornetta is trying to blame the City of Johns Creek for the lack of sales, when it is the internet that has caused sales at traditional porn shops to decline significantly. While we do not support the use of the internet for porn, it is interesting to note how these trends are impacting stores like the Love Shack.

Porn 2.0 is stiff competition for pro pornographers

The industry often credited with being the driving force behind (no pun intended) new technologies is now suffering from them. The pornography industry, which has long been growing alongside the Internet since the early days, has hit a wall in recent years. DVD sales and rentals have dropped by 15 to 25 percent in the last year, according to industry estimates, and some believe that it could fall further if the industry doesn’t catch up with new online trends.

 

Purveyors of porn scramble to keep up with Internet

 

“Even the adult-entertainment industry can be caught by surprise by how fast technology moves,” Lane says. “The small- to medium-size companies are getting hammered. “

For Pornographers, Internet’s Virtues Turn to Vices

But now the established pornography business is in decline — and the Internet is being held responsible.

The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs.

In yet the latest legal battle between the Love Shack and the City of Johns Creek, Mr. Cornetta is suing the city because they would not grant them a sign permit.  As expected, Mr. Cornetta is claiming loss of income due to the lack of a sign.  It will be interesting to see if Mr. Cornetta will open his books to reveal the sales and profit at his Johns Creek store.  Here is the AJC article:

The owner of an adult-themed retail chain is suing the city of Johns Creek – again – this time because the city has refused to allow him to erect a sign.

John Cornetta, owner of the Love Shack, filed suit in Fulton Superior Court on Nov. 15 saying city staff and the city Board of Zoning Appeals improperly denied him the right to put up a sign at his adult emporium in the heart of Johns Creek.

The suit says that Senior Planner Sam Bishop rejected Cornetta’s application for a sign because the Love Shack doesn’t have a business license. Cornetta’s suit said that’s not a good reason for denial because the city’s rules don’t tie sign permits to business licenses.

“They denied it because of who I am,” Cornetta said.

Cornetta appealed Bishop’s decision to the Zoning Board of Appeals and was shot down. Its members are named as defendants in the suit.

The city maintains that the Love Shack lacks the proper zoning for its location and is open illegally. The city claims that because the Love Shack is operating illegally, it can’t give the adult store a business license or a sign.

“It seems illogical to me that a business that’s not operating legally would have the right to advertise that illegal business with a sign,” Mayor Mike Bodker said.

Even though he remains open, Cornetta says he is entitled to a business license from the city. The city went to state court to force the Love Shack to close. The city hasn’t shut down the store because if Cornetta wins, he could sue Johns Creek for lost income.

Cornetta says the Love Shack legally opened under Fulton County regulations a year ago and the legal standing from the county carries over to the city. Fulton County says the Love Shack, in fact, didn’t conform to county rules and didn’t open legally. Cornetta and Fulton County are in court, too. The federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to hear the case Thursday.

“After Thursday, none of this is going to matter,” Cornetta said, predicting victory. “Everything will be moot.”

He vowed to come after the city for lost income because of the denial of a sign.

“It’ll be millions,” Cornetta said. “When I win this case, that store is going to be the No. 1 store in the country.”

In a victory for tough anti-obscenity laws, the US Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to Alabama’s ban on the sale of “adult toys”.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to Alabama’s ban on the sale of sex toys, ending a nine-year legal battle and sending a warning to store owners to clean off their shelves.

An adult-store owner had asked the justices to throw out the law as an unconstitutional intrusion into the privacy of the bedroom. But the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, leaving intact a lower court ruling that upheld the law.

Sherri Williams, owner of Pleasures stores in Huntsville and Decatur, said she was disappointed, but plans to sue again on First Amendment free speech grounds.

“My motto has been they are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand. I refuse to give up,” she said.

Alabama’s anti-obscenity law, enacted in 1998, bans the distribution of “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary value.”

The law does not ban the possession of sex toys, and it doesn’t regulate other items, including condoms or virility drugs. Residents may legally purchase sex toys out of state for use in Alabama, or they may buy sexual devices in Alabama that have a “bona fide medical” purpose.

Similar laws have been upheld in Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas, but struck down in Louisiana, Kansas and Colorado, said Mark Lopez, a former American Civil Liberties Union attorney in New York who worked on the Alabama case until recently.

The Alabama attorney general’s office immediately notified county district attorneys, who are responsible for enforcement. The attorney general planned to ask a federal judge to lift an injunction preventing the law from being enforced.

Removing the injunction should take a couple of days, said Chris Bence, spokesman for Attorney General Troy King.

Store owners should be aware that the law takes effect once the injunction is lifted, Bence said.

Williams had asked the Supreme Court to review a decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found Alabama’s law was not affected by a U.S. Supreme Court decision knocking down Texas’ sodomy law.

The Texas sodomy law involved private conduct, while the Alabama law regulated commercial activity, the appeals court judges said. Public morality was an insufficient government interest in the Texas case but was sufficient in the Alabama case, they said.

Williams called the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the law “further evidence of religion in politics.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court said states can legislate morality,” she said. “I don’t feel it is fair to the people who do not agree with the morality of the Legislature.”

She also predicted future court battles over which sexual devices are legal to sell as medical devices.

Lopez said adult stores may be cautious about pushing the issue of what constitutes a medical device because the law has strong penalties: Up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine for a first offense. A second offense carries a prison sentence of one to 10 years.

 

 

We have gotten more emails regarding the alcohol issues. The email is from a person seemed to agree with me:

Rather catty comment. I’d advise them to ask their community representative or church about helping to educate the community about alcohol. Think proactive not reactive.

The second email was from the original reader, who responded to my response:

Sorry. I misunderstood. I thought this was a site protesting an Adult Store, but this is a site protesting John Cornetta. What I should have said was: The amount of time spent worrying about this subject could be better spent helping those in real physical dangers.

Here is my response to them:

This website is about protesting an Adult Store that is located in a location that is not zoned for adult businesses.

You were the one to bring up the dangers of alcohol. If you have problem with the number of places you can get alcohol in Johns Creek than you can protest that.

We are free to pick which issues to be vocal on. I choose to be vocal against the Love Shack. This does not mean I think that alcohol is without its problems, but this is not an issue I choose to be vocal about at this time.

The fact is that you are making these claims about the dangers of alcohol to put down my protests of the Love Shack. My point is that the same person who owns the Love Shack also wants to sell alcohol, which you find very dangerous.

Another interesting thing is that Mr. Cornetta would not open his restaurant until he had his alcohol permit.

Every few weeks or so I get a comment similar in thought to the following comment:

Facts are always irrelevant when one is attempting to force their personal agenda on others, but here they are:
1. How many liquor stores are in Johns Creek?
2. How many drunk drivers are there in Johns Creek?
3. How many violent crimes due to alcohol are in Johns Creek?
4. How many families suffer due to alcohol in Johns Creek?
Is that okay? Do we turn a blind eye to real problems that cause harm and death? It is legal to buy alcohol, it is legal to buy guns, and it is legal to enjoy yourself sexually.
I can see your point as to how dangerous sex can be.

Since I seem to get this comment a lot I wanted our readers to see my response:

Thank you for you comment. In light of the dangers of alcohol, I am sure you can get your buddy Mr. Cornetta to not serve alcohol at his new restaurant in Johns Creek.

In fact maybe all adult businesses can do the responsible thing and stop serving alcohol due to the dangers.

Fat chance!!!

It always amazes me that people try to tell us what we can and cannot be against.  If these people really believed in the dangers of alcohol they could start their own blog highlighting the dangers of alcohol.  Instead they make straw man arguments to say that I should not be against porn in our neighborhood because of other “wrongs” in our society.  Remember what your mother taught you when you were little – “two wrongs do not make a right”.