St. Helena to look into tough new regulations on strip clubs

The St. Helena Parish Police Jury on Tuesday agreed to consider two proposed ordinances designed to curtail the activities of sexually oriented businesses and nightclubs in the parish.

The ordinances, drafted by Chattanooga, Tenn., lawyer Scott Bergthold, will be set for public hearing at the next Police Jury meeting.

Under the laws, if adopted, owners and employees of sexually oriented businesses would each be required to secure a license from the parish and follow a set of regulations prohibiting certain forms of dress, physical contact with patrons and other activities on the clubs’ premises.

The ordinances also would establish a mandatory closing period of midnight to 6 a.m. each day.

Violations of the ordinances could lead to a 30-day suspension or, if serious enough, one-year revocation of the business and/or employee’s license. Other punishments could include a fine of up to $500, imprisonment of up to 30 days or both, with each day a violation continues being counted as a separate offense.

Licenses would be automatically refused for anyone convicted within the past five years of rape or sexual battery, sexual offenses involving minors, prostitution, obscenity, voyeurism, drug crimes, money laundering or tax evasion.

Types of businesses the ordinances would regulate include “adult cabarets” such as nightclubs or restaurants, adult video and book stores, adult movie theaters, semi-nude model studios and sex paraphernalia shops.

Businesses already operating lawfully in the parish would be granted a 60-day de facto temporary license, after which they would be required to follow the licensing procedures outlined in the ordinances.

Other business coming before the Police Jury included:

CEMETERY FENCE: Faith Rhoner, past president of the Greensburg Cemetery Association, asked the Police Jury to take financial responsibility for repairs to a cyclone fence that was damaged when the parish buried an unclaimed body there on March 19.

The Police Jury voted 6-0 to approve the $100 cost.

BURN SITE MEETING: A public meeting will be held Friday at 6 p.m. in the Police Jury meeting room for residents who have questions about the state Department of Environmental Quality’s approval of the west end of the parish’s maintenance yard as a vegetation-only burn site, said Rita Allen, interim director of the parish’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.