Residents of northern Anne Arundel County were pleased last night when the County Council approved legislation that would place a moratorium on the licensing of new peep-show establishments in the area.
North county residents have long complained of the growing number of peep shows and adult bookstores in their area.
Trying to remain composed, Larry Cunningham told the council he lives three doors away from the proposed Paradise II adult book store on Wilson Boulevard in Glen Burnie. Since he moved there, Cunningham said, a liquor store frequented by rowdy, drunken patrons opened nearby.
"We got our home because we were lucky. . ." he said. "We don't want our dream violated."
John Kohlhepp, who grew up in Glen Burnie during the days of "head shops," which sold drug paraphernalia, and adult movie theaters, said he never thought he'd raise his kids in the area.
But after observing the rise of the "new Glen Burnie," Kohlhepp said he is proud to raise his children there.
After residents testified, the council unanimously approved the moratorium on the licensing of peep shows until Dec. 1.
Also last night, the council held a public hearing on a growth allocation bill that would affect the future use of the old Wiley H. Bates School in Annapolis.
The Bates School was the only secondary school for blacks in the county until 1966.
While everyone was in agreement that the school should be used for the betterment of the community, environmentalists and Bates alumni are divided on a specific use.
The Bates Development Corp. wants to create a monument to Bates, who served as a city alderman in the 1800s, by converting the former school into housing for the elderly. However, it will cost $1 million to rid the school of asbestos.
To pay for asbestos removal, the corporation wants to build townhouses on 11 acres of land behind the school. The acreage is part of a tract that has been designated a Chesapeake Bay critical area. In such an area, development is severely restricted. The county is under contract to sell the property to the city of Annapolis.
Environmentalists testified that building on the land would destroy acreage designated as open space and cause irreversible environmental damage.
The debate over Bates also took on a racial tinge when Jean Creek, president of the corporation, recalled that Alderman Ruth Gray, R-Ward 4, suggested the school be turned into a tourist attraction with a slave ship as the centerpiece of a cultural center.
Gray said that Creek took her suggestion out of context. She said she had been told about a cultural center in Senegal on the northwest coast of Africa, where a slave ship is used as a museum.
Shortly before midnight, the council adopted the growth allocation measure after approving amendments under which the county would transfer the land to the city of Annapolis on request and that only the 11 acres in question be changed from a limited development classification.
Those supporting the Bates School project saw the public hearing as another delaying tactic by opponents of a project that has been in the works for a few years.
"It seems that every time we as blacks try to do something to help ourselves, there's always a stumbling block," said former Annapolis mayor and alderman John Chambers. "I think the city and county owe it to the black neighborhoods to see that this project go through and move the stumbling blocks.
"I don't care how you do it," he added.