Residents OK Cheshire Bridge plan to gently give adult businesses the boot

Effort now moves back to City Hall


Two ordinances that could force Cheshire Bridge's adult video stores and strip clubs to leave the bustling thoroughfare received a vote of confidence last night from area residents after some changes were made.

At last night's well-attended Neighborhood Planning Unit F meeting, residents who live along the road and in surrounding neighborhoods overwhelmingly approved two new amendments to Atlanta City Councilman Alex Wan's proposals that would boot some adult businesses from a corridor that some have referred to as Atlanta's red-light district.

Under Wan's plan, "non-conforming" businesses along Cheshire Bridge between Piedmont and LaVista roads would be required to comply with special zoning restrictions or leave the corridor before 2015. The effort was halted in January by Atlanta's Zoning Review Board to address community concerns. In March, Wan asked for another deferral to flesh out revisions to the ordinances. Since then, the councilman tells CL, he's reached out to neighborhoods, business owners, and other stakeholders to receive additional input.

One amendment would let the proposal apply to only non-permitted uses, namely adult businesses, and leave more restaurants and shops untouched. In addition, "non-conforming" businesses would have two additional years to recoup investments they've made in the properties before leaving the area.

Scott Selig, vice president of Selig Enterprises and a Cheshire Bridge property owner, said last night that the resolutions set a bad precedent for the entire city and would negatively affect business owners.

"All of your savings could be in a building," Selig said. "If a certain use that's providing income and paying the mortgage for that all of the sudden has to go away, you might not have the hundred thousand dollars plus to turn your building into one that conforms."

But many local residents remain steadfast in their support. Richard Sussman, who's lived in the area for nearly four decades, said the amendments would help area get rid of some businesses that help give the neighborhood a "crime-ridden" perception. "We have to live with it 24 hours a day," he said.

The amended ordinances will now come up for debate at next month's ZRB meeting. Stay tuned.