PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY, VA—When we last left Trish Post, owner of the Shhh... Intimacy on a New Level in Mount Hermon, she'd just gotten a "cease and desist" letter from the county zoning board, informing her that she was in violation of the zoning code for selling adult DVDs—items she had quit selling several days before receiving the zoning board's letter.
At that time, prominent First Amendment attorney Lawrence G. Walters offered his services to defend Post, and told AVN that there were several problems with the county's case, including the fact that "adult entertainment" isn't even mentioned in the zoning code, and that "since there is no specific authorization for adult material, that means according to them that it must be prohibited, which is the reverse of what the Supreme Court has said, and that is that adult entertainment has to be permitted as a matter of right, and if you don't make those provisions in your zoning code, then the code's invalid and the stores can operate anywhere."
Well, guess what? Walters has received a letter from Odie H. Shelton, Jr., Pittsylvania County's Director of Code Compliance/Zoning Administrator, saying, essentially, "Never mind."
"I am rescinding my decision regarding your client's retail sales establishment as directed by the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors," Shelton's letter dated July 25 reads. "Your client's retail sale establishment will be legally grandfathered and allowed to continue its operation. Additionally, if your client notifies me in writing as required by Pittsylvania County Zoning Ordinance, Section 35-852, that she desires to withdraw her Appeal Case Number A-13-001, I can refund your client's appeal fee and remove the appeal from the Board of Zoning Appeal's agenda for September 10, 2013.
"Pittsylvania County is presently working on a zoning ordinance amendment to bring the county in compliance with Constitutional laws regulating adult stores," the letter continues. "Any future adult stores will need to comply with the zoning ordinance amendments approved by the Board of Supervisors."
Walters, needless to say, was jubillant on behalf of both his client and himself.
"Initally, we're happy and ecstatic that this particular dispute was resolved short of expensive, drawn-out litigation," Walters told AVN. "And we've seen in many other cases that local governments can fight tooth and nail when it comes to anything having to do with adult businesses, based on moral objecitons to the nature of the business. But in this instance, the local government, after I got involved and educated them on the state of the law and on the First Amendment protection of adult media, realized that their current zoning determination was indefensible under the First Amendment because local governments cannot zone adult businesses out of existence, and as a result of several discussions with county officials, they realized that any litigation would likely not go their way, and so they wisely chose to avoid spending unnecessary tax dollars on litigation, and resolve this in favor or allowing our client to stay put, and in grandfathering her in connection with any future adult business legislation."