Zoning Review Board to hear proposed changes to Cheshire Bridge Road today

Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan wants to rub out sex shops

Atlanta’s Zoning Review Board meets today at 6 p.m. at City Hall on the second floor in council chambers to discuss several proposed zoning items including proposed legislation that would phase out adult businesses along Cheshire Bridge Road.

The controversial legislation, proposed by openly gay Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, was revised Tuesday to only target sex shops along the popular thoroughfare considered the city’s red light district. Before Wan’s revisions, the legislation had also targeted car washes and auto body repair shops as well as businesses that exceeded certain square footages.

The legislation is strongly supported by NPU-F, which includes the neighborhoods of Lindridge-Martin Manor, Morningside-Lenox Park, Piedmont Heights and Virginia Highland.

Supporters of the legislation say Cheshire Bridge Road fails to reach its potential for future development because of the existence of adult businesses.

Wan’s legislation states that adult businesses “are frequently used for unlawful sexual activities, including prostitution and sexual liaisons of a casual nature.”

Several of the adult businesses on Cheshire Bridge Road attract many LGBT consumers. Businesses such as Inserection, which has been at its Cheshire Bridge location since 1995, cater to a gay clientele. The shops also employ LGBT people.

A new grassroots group named QUEER UP! Atlanta is asking people opposed to Wan’s plans to meet at City Hall at 5 p.m. with signs.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the group said it is time to “stand in solidarity [with] the owners of small, family businesses that would be uprooted and forced to start over if the proposal goes forth … [and] voice our anger with Atlanta’s insisting crack down on outlets that cater to open sexual expression and dialogue.”

Wan has said he is trying to help the residents living in the area implement a plan for Cheshire Bridge Road made in 1999 and approved by the city council in 2005. However, Wan is also attempting to banish businesses that were grandfathered into the those changes, including the adult businesses, which would set a legal precedent in Atlanta if approved.

The ZRB meeting is the last time the public can speak out on the proposed changes. Should it pass at the meeting tonight, it will then go to the City Council for approval.