ANNAPOLIS — The Anne Arundel County Council unanimously approved last night a moratorium on the licensing of video peep shows.
The legislation came in response to applications by two companies which had intended to install them at stores in Glen Burnie and Odenton.
Both applications were withdrawn last week in the face of vigorous protests by angry residents in those two communities.
Nevertheless, council members said they were still concerned about the potential spread of peep shows in the county.
"My mission is not one of censorship," said Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, D-2nd, of Glen Burnie, who co-sponsored the moratorium. "I'm saying we as a county have to set standards. We have a right as citizens to oppose these operations."
The issue struck a particularly sensitive nerve for a county where such sexually oriented establishments as peep shows, massage parlors and adult book stores proliferated along Odenton's boom-town strip near the U.S. Army's Fort Meade installation and in downtown Glen Burnie throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
"It's been a terrible stigma that has stayed with the county for many, many years," said Councilman David G. Boschert, D-4th, of Odenton. "The county has come a long way from those days."
A crowd of more than 200 people who packed the council chambers for last night's hearing cheered the council decision.
Once it is signed by County Executive Robert R. Neall, the legislation will place a moratorium on so-called "Class Y" licenses until Dec. 1.
The seven-member council also approved a resolution calling on a task force to study the regulation of adult bookstores and peep shows.
The task force would be the same one which recently recommended changes in how the county licenses commercial bingo operations.
"Until recently I felt safe and secure in the Glen Burnie area," Melva Sunday of Glen Burnie told council members. "I can't believe anyone would want to live near this [type of] establishment."