Author: John Ruch

Adult business lawsuit goes to court after zoning change

A federal lawsuit challenging Sandy Springs’ adult-business restrictions is going to trial as scheduled today. But a last-minute zoning change has trimmed the number of issues the court will decide, according to Cary Wiggins, the attorney representing the adult businesses in the nine-year-old lawsuit. Court arguments likely will last a few days, and a ruling will likely come several months later, Wiggins said. The adult bookstore Inserection and the strip clubs Flashers and Mardi Gras allege that the city is trying to force them out of business with laws violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments. One complaint involved zoning code restrictions that the businesses said were so tight, they made it practically impossible to move elsewhere in the city. Last month, in response to the lawsuit, the city quietly changed the zoning code to allow adult businesses in more areas. Wiggins said that complaint is now removed from the lawsuit. The remaining complaints that the court will decide include allegedly “overbroad” restrictions on alcohol sales; “arbitrary and capricious” rules on the expiration of the businesses’ zoning status; and an “overbroad” ban on “employees exposing ‘specified anatomical areas’ to patrons in private rooms.” Two other, separate lawsuits also challenging the city’s adult-businesses restrictions are still pending in federal and state courts. Also still pending is a 2011 lawsuit where the city is suing four adult businesses for alleged legal...

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Sandy Springs council tables sidewalk policy changes

Sandy Springs City Council on Aug. 4 held off on finalizing changes to the sidewalk construction policy until September, buying a little more time to get it right. The existing rules, requiring virtually any real estate development to build a new sidewalk, are widely disliked as piecemeal and pricey to single-family homeowners. Last month, the city exempted most single-family properties from the sidewalk policy as an interim step. Properties within the city’s sidewalk master plan are not exempt. At the Aug. 4 meeting, Assistant City Manager Jim Tolbert presented a final version of the policy change, which was essentially the same. However, some details were still up for tweaking, including the dollar amount on the option to pay into a sidewalk construction fund rather than directly build the sidewalk. At the suggestion of Councilman Andy Bauman, the council tabled the discussion and decision to get more input and get all the policy’s pieces in...

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Evangelist indicted in Boyer’s DeKalb corruption scheme

An evangelist is facing federal corruption charges for his role in the kickback scheme involving former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer, according to an ajc.com report. Rooks Boynton allegedly accepted $85,000 in county funds for false “consulting” services in 2009 through 2011, then kicked back a large portion of the money to Elaine Boyer and her husband John. John Boyer pleaded guilty this year to arranging the kickback scheme and is awaiting sentencing, according to an FBI press release. Elaine Boyer pleaded guilty last year to corruption charges involving personal spending with a county-issued Visa card. She resigned and is currently in federal prison in Florida. Boynton, 73, was recently indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of federal program theft and conspiracy, according to ajc.com. Elaine Boyer’s scheme was just one of several corruption scandals plaguing DeKalb County. Investigators hired by CEO Lee May to dig into the county’s problems recently declared the government to be “rotten to the core,” sparking criticism from May and a dispute about when that final report will be...

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