By Aubrey Villines
The Pink Pony is an adult entertainment establishment that has existed legally and peacefully in DeKalb County since 1991. It is located at the southern tip of what is now the city of Brookhaven.
During the process of establishing the city of Brookhaven, the Pink Pony was constantly assured by many of the Brookhaven “players” that they did not want to do anything to harm the Pink Pony.
In fact, Brookhaven chose to include the Pink Pony in its new city because it would be a source of revenue. Without the anticipated revenue from the Pink Pony, the city of Brookhaven would be in the red.
Unfortunately, Brookhaven now believes it does not need the $455,000 the Pink Pony pays in licenses, taxes and fees to DeKalb County. The city of Brookhaven now has the option of limiting services to its citizens or raising taxes to project a balanced budget.
The purpose of this column is not to debate Pink Pony’s constitutional or legal right to exist. My intent is simply a discussion of the community benefits of the Pink Pony.
The city of Brookhaven has passed ordinances that will put the Pink Pony out of business no later than 2014. The Pink Pony has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of DeKalb County setting forth its constitutional and legal arguments. Fighting this lawsuit is an unnecessary expense to a city that must get its budget under control.
The Pink Pony has existed at its current location for 22 years without legal problems or criminal activity. It is surrounded by a creek and other local businesses, and is not on a major highway. The current location of the Pink Pony is optimal for all parties, including those who worry about the effects of adult entertainment. In 22 years, the club has not had any problems with DeKalb County, nor has it had any issues with the ATF, Department of Revenue, or other governmental entities.
The Pink Pony brings approximately 300,000 people annually through its doors. Those 300,000 patrons frequent the restaurants, gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, car washes, cleaners and other businesses in Brookhaven.
The revenue that is spent in Brookhaven by Pink Pony employees and patrons is probably incalculable, but definitely exceeds that $455,000 the Pink Pony currently pays to DeKalb County – money that should be going to Brookhaven. If the Pink Pony is put out of business by Brookhaven, the impact to local businesses will be devastating.
Why has Brookhaven City Council chosen to pass ordinances that by 2014 will put the Pink Pony out of business? There has not been an outcry of constituents demanding that the club must go. There has not been a sudden crime wave associated with the club. The city’s resources are better directed to the delivery of services to residents and to the decrease of taxes.
The $455,000 in taxes and fees that the Pink Pony wants to pay to Brookhaven, and the money spent by its employees and patrons in the city, can be used to provide much-needed services and to lower taxes. Even the City Council should understand that decreasing revenues result in fewer services or higher taxes.
The Pink Pony has operated under a court settlement agreement with DeKalb County for years. That agreement grandfathered in the Pink Pony and, since 1991, has successfully kept other adult entertainment establishments from opening in the area. The DeKalb settlement says it is binding and assigned to any future cities that may come into existence. Brookhaven City Council only needs to accept the fact that it is bound by the agreement, and continue grandfathering the Pink Pony in.
Brookhaven will have more revenue for services and the Pink Pony will continue, unnoticed by most citizens, if the city simply honors this legally-binding agreement.
Aubrey Villines is a lawyer who represents the Pink Pony and other adult entertainment businesses.