During a four hour meeting last Thursday, Midway’s city council members heard from citizens who politely waited their turn to tell the board that, for the most part, they wanted the city to steer clear of sexually-oriented businesses, period.
Only one person from the audience spoke in favor of the strip club that recently applied for a business license to locate their establishment in the city’s 10-90 industrial park.
To operate at a profit, the company’s representatives have said, they would need the repeal of an ordinance in place since 1994 that would allow such businesses but prohibits them from selling alcohol. The procedure had already gone through its first public hearing in July, and the meeting on August 1st was the second hearing.
Attorney Christopher O’Neal spoke for the petitioners. A second man, unaffiliated with the club, spoke of his supper club that provided the county’s first and only such establishment. “Prior to the Flying J, I was the only employer in Midway with Club Colombo’s. There’s a difference between adult entertainment like a supper club and one with sexual connotations. Separate me from those naked people,” said Emanuel Sapp.
The remainder of speakers were passionate in urging the council to deny the strip club owners’ request to open and sell alcohol. “We are in need of jobs (but not like this). I’m concerned with our children’s safety, too,” said Pastor Willy Brown.
Pastor Charles Scrivens said he probably knows more about the sexually-oriented type of business than just about anybody, having served 15 years with the Tallahassee police and prior to that, 20 years with the city of Jacksonville as a law enforcement officer. He also served on the Florida Parole Commission for 12 years.
“This is an unwholesome industry. It’s not what happens in the club itself, but what happens around it. There are unintended consequences. In a small community like Midway, right at the I-10 corridor, you can sustain a supper club if the food is proportionately higher than the alcohol. This (strip club) will bring about a change that, when we’re all in heaven, the community will regret it. What a city council does to gain revenue is lose its soul,” said Scrivens.
A Midway resident who moved from Leon County ten years ago, Ron Tyler said when the old 10-90 Club was open, people could get shot, beaten up, their cars ransacked and more. “We’re talking about a house of ill repute at our front door for a few dollars in tax money. The Midway police department won’t be able to arrest everyone. Let’s don’t bring those problems here from Tallahassee.”
Pastor Doug Stevens said when the possession of a liquor license is married to adult entertainment it’s not a family-friendly atmosphere. “They get intoxicated, there are rapes…why would Midway do this?”
Former Gadsden County commissioner and Midway Mayor Eugene Lamb said he’s spent most of his life in Midway. “Don’t let people do this that your citizens don’t want you to do. This is not the way to get money for Midway. Stand up and do what’s right for the citizens of Midway. Please do not amend this ordinance for alcohol,” said Lamb.
The board voted unanimously to deny Ordinance 2012-5 that would have allowed the club to also sell alcohol.
Midway approved an interlocal agreement with the county for fire and rescue. It is a one-year agreement with city staff saying they wanted to be able to re-negotiate some terms in the contract but needed it in place now.
“Midway gets the second-most calls in the county and it gets the fourth-less money from the county for those services,” said city manager Auburn Ford.
Councilwoman Allean Robinson, who is married to former fire chief Frank Robinson, voted against the agreement.
During the city’s finance report, consultant Bill Bogan told the board that it has a cash flow issue. “The state is holding up a significant amount of money - $354,000 in grant money, due to us,” said Bogan.
“Back in December, the state issued a monitoring report. January 3rd, I was terminated and nothing was done (on the grants) until I got back in May. We’ll release the money owed (to contractors on the fire station) as soon as the state releases our money,” said city manager Ford. “The monitoring report wasn’t cleared until I got back. Nothing was done from February to May.”
The city set its millage rate at 4.0763, the same as last year, at a budget hearing immediately before the monthly meeting.