Starship denied a business license; preparing legal challenge

Thu, 06/18/2009 - 2:43pm
By: Ben Nelms

Starship denied a business license

It was over almost before it started. A quick motion to deny a business license for Starship Adult Novelties & Gifts at Thomas Crossroads received a unanimous vote from Coweta County commissioners June 16 as nearly 250 opponents of the business who had filled the commission chambers and the foyer outside looked on. Starship attorney Alan Begner after the meeting said he is preparing a legal challenge to the decision.

Commission Chairman Paul Poole opened the agenda item by informing the crowd of Starship opponents that the board would not be entertaining any public comments on the issue. County Administrator Theron Gay followed with a brief notation that the board could grant or deny the business license. His comment was followed by a motion from Commissioner Rodney Brooks that the business license be denied. The vote was unanimous.

Starship CEO Kelly Rogers has long-maintained that he was prepared to see the issue through to what he believes will be a favorable conclusion for his business. That sentiment continued after the commissioners’ decision was announced. Starship attorney Alan Begner agreed.

“We are preparing a lawsuit and will be filing it as soon as it’s ready,” Begner said.

Starship was on the agenda after having received a recommendation last month from Coweta County’s Tax Rate Review and Appeals Committee to have its earlier business license denial overturned. Committee members on May 20 voted 4-1 to recommend to county commissioners that Starship be issued a business license to operate its Thomas Crossroads location. The meeting was the culmination of an appeal process that began in mid-April and followed the initial denial of the business license by commissioners in January.

The proceedings in the first appeal hearing April 13 before the Tax Rate Review and Appeals Committee revolved around the Feb. 6 denial of Starship’s business license and owner Kelly Rogers’ contention that the decision had been made by Jan. 20 when more than 300 residents packed the commission chambers, ready to demand that commissioners face litigation rather than give in to having Starship operate in the Thomas Crossroads area. It was at the beginning of the Jan. 20 meeting, and prior to public comments, that Commissioner Rodney Brooks read a prepared statement indicating that the business license would be denied.

The issue evolved to its current status after commissioners on Jan. 26 adopted ordinances on sexually-oriented businesses and obscenity. Rogers in response said that from the beginning of the process in late 2008 he had complied with county ordinances, including having less than 25 percent sexually-oriented merchandise, and should be granted a license to operate. Starship received a Certificate of Occupancy on Jan. 19 and applied for a business certificate on Jan. 20.

New ordinances notwithstanding, both Rogers and his attorney maintained that Starship is a store that will sell general merchandise that will carry some adult items and that it should be granted a business license.

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NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:56pm.

Maybe the 250 fundies and the commissioners can dig into their own pockets and pay for the legal expenses arising from this stupidity. Way to make a stand, guys! Maybe next time try writing a decent ordinance first, not arbitrarily denying a license, or modifying your the same half-azz ordinance after someone applies. What an alarming lack of leadership or common sense.

Businesses like Starship and other adult-type places love litigation because they win the vast majority of the time and get a ton of free publicity from it. The Starship CEO lives in Coweta and is going to fight this until he wins and makes the commission look like the dumb hicks they are.

k0bra's picture
Submitted by k0bra on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:44pm.

it's funny because as someone mentioned there is blatant porn in coweta county's gas stations (literally just right up the road from the establishment in question.) I went into one of the stations the other day and right there by the register BAM videos of all sorts. So yeah, this really is kind of ridiculous. All these bible thumping idiots don't seem to get that it's already all over the place. How is this starship being in an already kinda sketchy/gross part of town going to affect anything other than bring in a small bit of taxes for the county? Get a grip, jeez. I can see if it were Peachtree City, even I would vote no for that. But Newnan? Really? C'mon folks. Stop kidding yourselves.

matt.barnes's picture
Submitted by matt.barnes on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 1:10pm.

At least at a store like Starship children aren't allowed in. At a gas station the porn is right there at the register in plain site. Yeah, they use those black wrappers that only show the title, but really, don't the titles usually say it all.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 11:54pm.

The group that is. Of Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship fame. I saw them during the "Knee Deep in the Hoopla" tour. It was a decent time. It begs the question. If Starship the group "built this city on rock and roll" did Starship the store built their business on "pot and porn"?

This will be an interesting fight that makes me glad I am watching from Fayette County.

Submitted by windowpane on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 12:24am.

Too bad you did not see Grace @ the old ATL Auditorium, she almost started a riot in '70. It was all downhill once Marty joined the band. "Miracles" ain't no "White Rabbit" it lives on forever. Slick-Kantner-Kaukonen-Casady-& Spencer. I had a dog named Lather. Good times

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:40am.

I am still looking for my cassette of that interesting album. It was good stuff back in the day

Submitted by windowpane on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 11:40pm.

I had to go to Ol' Nat'l last week just to buy a new bong, I mean "fine ta'baccy product" U can't say "Bong" in the store. They do have rules & standards after all.

rzz's picture
Submitted by rzz on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 6:06pm.

buy your porn over the internet, people.

Submitted by 1bighammer on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 3:51pm.

county commission in Coweta county? It sure seems like it, making up the rules as they go along.

I'm not for or against a "Sex" shop (which I highly doubt it is). I am for free enterprise and capitalism. If you want to open a business and you follow the rules, you should be able to. Mr. Rogers (how ironic is that) played by the rules and is still being denied the ability to operate his business. It appears the Coweta Commissioners gave in to a small but loud group, that oppose the shop on emotional grounds, rather than following the "RULE of LAW" and issuing the business license based on Starship meeting all of the requirements to do so.

What's next? Will business owners be denied the opportunity to establish a legal businesses if enough people stand up and cry? How about we go and protest any new restaurant wanting to obtain a business license in Coweta County? They sell food, people over eat, they get obese and have heart disease, and some die! People are getting killed by restaurants. They shouldn't be allowed a business license.

I hope Mr. Rogers wins his court case...where do I donate to help his cause?

DarkMadam's picture
Submitted by DarkMadam on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 3:34pm.

That is the sound of tax dollars going down the drain. Mr. Kelley will win in the end. He always does. My thoughts are that Coweta is not the capital of the Bible Belt but the commissioners believe that they are the buckle. People will just continue to drive out of county to spend their money. So... in a nut-shell, there are lost tax dollars that will go to attorneys and lost tax dollars being spent out of the county!

Submitted by ohmygosh on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 3:27pm.

now that the Times Herald has closed commenting on their story of this, that all the naysayers and teetotalers will be coming here to post. Let me begin by saying that with this decision, Coweta has plunged into a socialist state, where they can dictate what we do behind closed doors. They spout the evils of pornography that is sold in a restricted access store, yet they do nothing about Bully Ball and his graphic shock photos at every public event (pictures that some people get off on just as if they were porn themselves). You cannot change the rules in mid-game, yet Coweta chose to do so and will lose dearly in the end, and cost the taxpayers a ton of money on top of what has already been wasted. If the business was going to fail, let it fail. If it thrives, then we have succeeded in adding at least a dozen jobs to the area and increased tax revenue as well, regardless of what it sells.

Submitted by HoochieWagon on Thu, 06/18/2009 - 10:57pm.

You fail to mention that pornography is sold out in the open at gas stations in Coweta County. Such a double standard here. And you know which churches are pushing.

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