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County looks at revising policy

Profile image for By Bj Lewis & Megan Gray / Staff Writers
By Bj Lewis & Megan Gray / Staff Writers

Denton County Commissioners are looking at revising the county’s sexually oriented business policy.

The revision was on the agenda for the Sept. 23 meeting but was pulled to give county officials and the Denton County Sheriff’s Office more time to review the policy which has not been touched since 2002. County Judge Mary Horn said it was just a timely update — not in response to unfounded rumors of a strip club coming to Denton County.

“That’s honestly not how this conversation started. The conversation about updating truly started months ago,” she said. “Doesn’t hurt to have a policy in place that is current.”

The policy establishes guidelines as to where sexually oriented businesses can and cannot set up shop. The policy is similar to city policies that control where the businesses can be inside city limits, Horn said. “It doesn’t say they can’t be in business, it just says we don’t want them next to a church or a school yard.”

Horn said policy discussion was in the works with Jody Gonzalez, chief fire marshal and emergency services coordinator for Denton County.

“It was last updated in 2002,” Horn said, recalling a sexually oriented business on State Highway 121. “Bruce Isaacks [former district attorney] was going in circles with them and finally shut them down,” Horn said.

The county wanted a policy and, at the time, former Denton County Sheriff Weldon Lucas wanted no part of it, so the responsibility was given to Gonzalez, the county judge said.

“I have had inquiries, but never have I had someone request to start the application process,” Gonzalez said.

He said that as of now, someone would come to him if interested in starting the permitting process even though most the work is completed by the sheriff’s office.

Gonzalez said sexually oriented business applicants have to go through an extensive amount of investigation including releasing the name or names of silent partners, revealing credit history, undergoing criminal background checks on all parties involved and providing spousal information, to name a few.

“It’s a lot of investigation,” he said.

Officials say the permitting process for sexually oriented businesses is nothing more than what’s required all across the state.

“Our policy we have in effect is based off templates not only used in surrounding counties, but by the Texas Municipal League,” Gonzalez said.

Precinct 1 County Commissioner Hugh Coleman said he was alerted to area concern about the rumored business when Matt Mueller from Little Elm sent him an e-mail with a website link that led to a page indicating “Baby Dolls” was coming to Denton County.

“I am not sure if you are aware of this or not. We received an e-mail from a concerned citizen regarding a rumor that a strip club was locating on [U.S. Highway] 380,” according to the e-mail, which also listed a link that no longer works. “We feel that this would be a great detriment to the area; however, we are not sure if this is real or if it is a hoax,” the e-mail continued, indicating the address listed was that of an existing storage facility.

Sheriff Will Travis said he learned of a strip club coming to the county from the same website in recent weeks and has since been reviewing how the county’s sexually oriented business policy is set up should those types of businesses try to locate here.

“I think these types of businesses are immoral and unethical,” he said. “They don’t need to come to Denton County. … They just aren’t biblical.”

Travis said that not only would they bring about a different type of audience, but with more similar business attractions, the county could be looking at more crime making its way into the area, as well. 

Travis said he doesn’t want anything to do with the process since it’s against his beliefs, but since it was brought to him by Gonzalez to look at, he might have to.

“Ultimately, I would like for the commissioners to have to sign off on a sexually oriented business,” he said. 

Steve Kraft, vice president of Baby Dolls Saloon, said it was not his business that was advertised on the website.

“I would like to know who it is and where it is. It was not us. We own the trademark on Baby Dolls. I saw some Internet link and then it was disabled when I went back to it. They even used my font and everything I had trademarked,” Kraft said. 

“I even had people come to my office saying they’d like to apply for a job with the new club on 380,” Kraft said. “It is not us. I’d like to find out who it is.”

BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.