City approves amended adult business ordinance

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- After making last-minute revisions to an ordinance restricting where businesses who sell adult material can operate, the city commission unanimously adopted a sexually-oriented business ordinance Tuesday.

The changes will allow Gail Thurman, the owner and operator of Gail's Lingerie at 930 West Broad Ave.,to remain in her current location.

Thurman, who would've been required move her business within the next two years had the ordinance passed as it was originally written, has been working with planning and zoning staff to work out a compromise that would allow her to stay in business.

Battling a summer cold that limited her ability to speak, Thurman said after Tuesday's vote that she was thrilled the commission decided to be flexible and work with her.

"It's been a long process but I'm glad that we'll continue to be able to stay in our current location, where I've been for 13 or more years," Thurman said. "I'm just really thrilled."

The commission voted to accept a few significant changes from the original ordinance that paved the way for Thurman to keep her business on Broad Avenue.

Firstly, they listed West Broad Avenue as one of the streets where sexually-oriented businesses can be located. Prior to the change, those businesses would have been limited to Oglethorpe Boulevard, Dawson Road and Slappey Boulevard.

Secondly, they changed the definition of a church to mirror that used in alcohol ordinance which essentially defines houses of worship as free-standing, individual buildings -- not storefront churches.

Pamela Miller, Thurman's pastor and supporter, said Tuesday night that the city appears to be working to reverse the perception that they aren't business friendly.

"I think the commission was helpful and flexible and has been concerned about losing a business that has been helping couples not only physically but through counseling for 13 or 14 years," Miller said.

The ordinance brings the city another step closer to completing a review and update of their entire Code of Ordinances.