Gay Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan made a shrewd political move on the eve of a hearing for his Cheshire Bridge Road rezoning efforts by narrowing its focus to target only sexually-oriented businesses on the strip.
Wan announced Wednesday that he's submitting substitute legislation ahead of a Zoning Review Board meeting on Thursday in which they will be discussed. The new measures would force out sexually-oriented businesses, narrowing the scope of the proposals that would have also impacted a host of other businesses along the corridor.
There are essentially two revisions to each. First, the legislation now applies only to adult businesses within NC-4 and NC-5 (versus all non-conforming uses as originally presented), and second, the amortization period has been extended from two to five years. It is my hope that the amended legislation, if adopted, will help the corridor realize as much of the vision set forward by the original Cheshire Bridge Task Force Study in 1999 as possible, while further minimizing the number of businesses that would have been negatively impacted by the legislation as it was originally proposed.
As clarification, these new versions are complete substitutes for the previous proposals, which will no longer be under consideration (put another way, these amendments are not in addition to what was on the table before but replace that language.)
I encourage everyone to continue participating in the legislative process, which includes the ZRB meeting on Thursday night where the board will hear the application again and may render its recommendation to Council on the proposal. The meeting is open to the public. However, public comment is limited to 10 minutes in support and 10 minutes in opposition, unless the board elects to extend that time.
Wan's changes come as LGBT criticism of his efforts grows. But the substitute measures undercut opposition that includes an online petition from the owner of small businesses on the corridor. With the new legislation, those businesses apparently won't be impacted.
Wan has become increasingly critical of LGBT opposition, telling the GA Voice that “if the gay agenda is 24-hour bars and sex clubs, then the truth is I'm not the representative for that.”
Wan's proposals surfaced last November. They would give new life to a stalled 2005 rezoning effort that called for booting sexually-oriented businesses from the strip. That would include a handful that cater to gay customers, including Bliss, Starship and gloryhole concubines Southern Nights and Inserection. Other adult-oriented businesses impacted by the effort include Doll House, Onyx, Uptown Novelty and Naughty Girls Lingerie.
In a March, Wan assured owners of Heretic, BJ Roosters and Jungle that the legislation would not impact them.
Wan told Project Q Atlanta in December that the city’s industrial areas can accommodate the sexually-oriented businesses if they are forced from Cheshire. He also would support an adult entertainment district, though he hasn't proposed any legislation to create one.
“There is obviously a demand and a market for this. If we could find the right space for it, to me it is definitely worth exploring as we continue to see that there is a market for it,” he says.