Neighbors Have Not Yet Begun To Fight Porno Shop

Glen Burnie Residents Fear Growth Of A Red-light District

August 15, 1991|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Staff writer

From her tidy front yard trimmed with flower beds, Deborah Cunningham can look straight at the gray house that's already become one of the county's most notorious landmarks.

She's closed the shades and warned her children to steer clear of the building. Still, every time Cunningham walks outside and glances down the block, she shudders.

"It's so close, I don't feel safe," she said about the adult bookand video store within a stone's throw of her home in Glen Burnie.

Her neighbors on Wilson Boulevard were equally dismayed when the Paradise X-rated video store quietly opened earlier this week. Many have lived on the quiet, residential street for decades. They fear that the store will attract unsavory clients and even prostitutes.

"That kind of business will lead to other activities," said David Boyer, who bought his home on Wilson Boulevard in 1978. "Possibly prostitution, possibly dope dealing."

Boyer and his wife returned Tuesday night from a vacation in Florida to find customers walking into the store and their neighbors on the evening news. A group of residents attended a Glen Burnie Improvement Association meeting that night to protest the store's opening.

Most of the residents are afraid similar stores will proliferate along Crain Highway. With a liquor store already across from the video store and rooms for rent in the neighborhood, they worry that everything is in place for a local red-light district.

Magura Enterprises, the Baltimore company that owns the videoparlor, originally wanted to include a peep show. But the company bowed to community pressure and withdrew its request for a commercial license to install "private film viewing machines," better known as peep shows.

"I don't understand what their (the neighbors') concernsnow are," said Timothy F. Umbreit, an attorney representing the firm.

"It's really no different than all those mainstream video storesthat have a back room" for X-rated movies.

Umbreit said the company signed a long-term lease to turn the gray house in Glen Burnie into a video store. Magura Enterprises plans to continue renting videos and selling accessories, such as flavored condoms, at the store -- unless the neighborhood wants to raise enough money to relocate it.

"If somebody wanted to pay for all the expenses, I'd even recommend to my client that they relocate," Umbreit said.

Magura Enterprises chose Glen Burnie based on a market research study that showed 92 percent of the adult males indulged in some form of X-rated entertainment, from subscribing to Playboy magazine to renting adult videos, he said.

But none of the men living next door to the video store were happy about its arrival.

"We don't care for it here," said George Hoffman, 65, who has been living on Wilson Boulevard for 36 years. "We've lived through this before, where we have these kind of places coming into Glen Burnie."

He and his wife fear the video parlor willherald a return to their hometown's more seedy past, when X-rated movie theaters and adult bookstores flourished in the downtown shoppingdistrict. They're determined to stop the past from recurring.

So is Cunningham. She compared the video store to "a cancer" that will spread unless stopped. "We're going to do all we can to remove this kind of thing," she said.

Cunningham points out that she and her neighbors have invested a lot of time, energy and money into fixing up their homes. With an adult bookstore around the corner, she said, property values are likely to fall.

"Who would want that next to theirhouse?" she said. "We have to do all we can within the law, maybe picket, maybe other things, to stop them."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.