Brookhaven may be headed for a court battle with a second Buford Highway business.
Brookhaven officials say a store called Stardust is violating the city’s sexually- oriented business ordinance. City code enforcement officers have written the store 14 citations daily, starting June 7.
The city accuses the store of operating a sexual device shop without a license, operating a sexually-oriented business within 100 feet of another sexually-oriented business, and failing to identify a line of business at the time of business registration.
Stardust founder and COO Michael Morrison argues that his business is not a sexually-oriented business. He said the store does sell some adult items, but the majority of the merchandise is smoking paraphernalia.
“We really are more of a typical water-pipe store with some adult toys,” Morrison said. “We sell lots of female bachelorette-type stuff. Our store is pretty innocuous.”
Representatives of Stardust were scheduled to appear in Brookhaven Municipal Court on July 12. But Morrison said he plans to file suit against the city in state court instead.
City officials declined to comment on the citations.
“We cannot release any more details, other than what the citations are for, and do not wish to do an interview at this time,” Brookhaven spokeswoman Megan Matteucci said.
Brookhaven is already involved in high-profile litigation with the Pink Pony strip club, just a stone’s throw from the Stardust shop.
“We probably got caught up in the whirlwind that is the Pink Pony,” Morrison said.
The Pink Pony’s owners sued the city over the sexually-oriented business ordinance adopted by Brookhaven City Council. The ordinance bans alcohol and nude dancing, which the club’s owners say would destroy their business.
Brookhaven’s sexually-oriented business ordinance defines a sexual device shop as a “commercial establishment that regularly features sexual devices.” The devices are described as objects designed for sexual stimulation. The definition excludes from the definition any pharmaceutical or medical items, such as those intended to prevent pregnancy.
Displayed in frames behind the counter at Stardust are the business’ occupational tax certificate, retail tobacco license and a Brookhaven Certificate of Occupancy.
Morrison said he spoke to Brookhaven officials before opening the business to clarify the city’s regulations.
“We absolutely have a license. We are correctly licensed for what we do. By their definition we’re not even close to being adult entertainment,” Morrison said.
Morrison, an Oglethorpe University alumnus, said he chose to open the store at the Buford Highway location because of its visibility from the street and proximity to other entertainment venues. He has plans to open five other Stardust locations this year.
Morrison said he thinks Brookhaven is going to get a negative reputation in the business community if the city “keeps up this silliness.”
“Entrepreneurs and business owners are going to go to cities that want them,” Morrison said. “I think any business should be encouraged as long as they’re legal.”