Pendleton Co. strip club fighting county ordinance

By Lawrence Smith | Aug 21, 2013

ELKINS - The owner of a South Branch strip club wants the Pendleton County Commission to take it off - a law off the books that is.

Pancakes, Biscuits, and More, LLC, the parent company of Golden Angels Cabaret in Brandywine, is asking a judge to declare unconstitutional the county’s ordinance banning exotic entertainment. In its complaint filed Aug. 13 in U.S. District Court, Golden Angels alleges not only does the ordinance violate the First Amendment but was approved without the commission conducting any inquiry into how a business like it harms the public.

According the suit, the commission on April 19, 2005, approved the ordinance “Regulating the Location of Businesses Offering Exotic Entertainment.” Though details are not provided, the ordinance restricts where strip clubs may locate in the county.

On an unspecified date, Golden Angels sought the necessary licenses to open. However, the commission was successful in putting a stop to it by obtaining a restraining order in Pendleton Circuit Court earlier this month.

The ordinance, Golden Angels alleges, should be voided since the commission, prior to enacting it, “did not conduct any study, hold any hearings or provide any public discussion on the secondary effects of exotic entertainment in the surrounding community.” Also, since nude dancing is a form of expression, the ordinance creates “an impermissible ‘content-based’ restriction upon freedom of speech.”

Golden Angels, which according to the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office is owned by Robin Shifflett of Harrisonburg, Va., is represented by Floyd M. Sayre III and J. Tyler Mayhew with Bowles Rice’s Martinsburg office. The case is assigned to Judge John Preston Bailey.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 13-cv-57

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