Greene County officials plan to fight opening of Pink Palace

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 22, 2004

EUTAW – The Greene County Industrial Development Board voted Wednesday morning to support District Attorney Greg Griggers in drafting a civil injunction against the Pink Palace adult entertainment store in Boligee.

The Pink Palace was closed Tuesday by Sheriff Johnny L. Isaac because the business did not have the proper license. There was a sign on the front door Wednesday stating that the store was temporarily closed.

Griggers will only take action if the Greene County Commission grants the Pink Palace a specialty license. The issuance of that license is not likely if commission chairman Chip Beeker, who is also an IDB member, has his way.

“The county is not going to [issue the license],” he said. “We’re prepared to do everything and anything legally possible in our means” to keep the business out of Greene County… “We’re simply not going to tolerate the Palace,” Beeker said later. “We’ll follow the legal guidelines, but we are very conservative in our thinking, generally here. It’s a rural place.

“We (the county commission) might be in the paper all the time fighting among ourselves; when something like this happens, we will all be together,” Beeker said, “and we will be a force that will have to be reckoned with. We’re simply not going to tolerate it.”

“I do believe that a lot of the things they have to sell violates anti-obscenity laws,” Griggers said. “That’s a vague standard. It’s a community standard based on what the people in Greene County would find offensive or obscene. Based on the response you have gotten I’ve got to believe most of the people would think some of these things (store items) are obscene.”

The county commission can require a $500 investigation fee for a speciality license. If the license is granted by the county and the Pink Palace continues to operate, then Griggers will take action. “I’ve committed myself to Ms. Belcher and this board,” the DA said. He feels there is enough evidence to support a civil injunction. The owner can respond to the injunction, and hearing will be held before Judge Eddie Hardaway Jr.

“If enough people from Greene County would support the (IDB), the judge would see that Greene County does not want this kind of business,” Griggers said.

The District Attorney is concerned such a business would eventually graduate to peep shows or other activities based on Pendergrass’ track record with other such businesses.

The property where the Pink Palace stands is at the entrance of the Greene County Industrial Park. The property was bought from the IDB by Steve Pearson who sold it to Jerry C. Pendergrass for $125,000. “In our contract with Pearson it clearly states that he couldn’t sell the property without the approval of the industrial board,” Belcher said. “He had to give us right of first refusal, which was a 90-day written notice, to offer the land back to us at a reasonable cost.” However, that stipulation was not put in the deed recorded at the county courthouse due to an error by the attorney, she said.

Danny Cooper, IDB chairman, said Pendergrass has suggested that he might sell back the property to the IDB.

Board member John Zippert was concerned that such a business in the industrial park would scare away other industries. “I would stand up for the first amendment and say maybe this man has a right to have his business somewhere but not in the place he put it….It makes it very difficult for us to utilize the land that we have invested so much time and money into. That’s a strong argument too.

“I understand the obscenity argument. I would find it obscene but on a first amendment basis you probably would have some people who wouldn’t.”

Board treasurer Ralph Banks III said the store was too close to a school.

The Pink Palace was too close to the Boligee Park where children play, Belcher said.

Beeker was not sure when the county commission will meet on the issue.