Efforts to oust an X-rated video and book store from a Glen Burnie residential neighborhood continued in earnest this week as citizens called two meetings to rally support and plan their strategy.
The first meeting, held Monday night at the Glen Burnie Improvement Association building on Crain Highway, drew 90 people, said Debbie Brunetti,who lives one street away from the new Paradise I video store on Wilson Boulevard.
Only one person attending Monday's meeting said the bookstore should be allowed to stay, Brunetti said.
But Jonathan S. Resnick, a Baltimore attorney representing owners of the store, said he was surprised to hear of continued efforts to force it out of the neighborhood. Resnick said he thought the issue was resolved when his client, Baltimore-based Magura Enterprises, dropped its plans to include a peepshow as well as adult books and videos at the Glen Burnie store.
Magura had requested a commercial license to install "private film viewing machines" but withdrew the request after an outcry from residents.
Resnick said his clients "plan to stand by their constitutional right of freedom of speech," which allows them to sell and distribute adult materials.
Brunetti and other residents said Paradise I, even without the peep show, doesn't mix well in a residential neighborhood with elementary and middle schools just blocks away.
"We're not approaching this from a censorship standpoint. We're not saying (they) shouldn't be able to sell their wares," Brunetti said. "We justfeel there are businesses that are appropriate to residential neighborhoods and those that are not. We think this is not."
Resnick said his clients did not want to comment on "their personal opinions" about whether the video store was an appropriate business for the neighborhood.
Buoyed by the success of Monday's meeting and offers to help from two dozen residents, the ad hoc committee, which now has seven members, will meet again tonight to set up committees and determine its next step.
"We have a certain amount of momentum going, and we want to keep it going," said Larry Cunningham, chairman of the committee. "We want (the store) out of our neighborhood, and we want to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else's neighborhood."
Committee members hope to oust the video and book store through community pressure, letter writing and other "legal measures," Brunetti said. The committee does not plan to picket or take other "drastic" action atthis time, she said.
Many residents who live near the store fear the business will attract "the wrong element" and lead to increased crime and possibly prostitution. Others believe it may lower home values, said Brunetti.
Cunningham said his group supports changes in county zoning laws that would ban such businesses from areas zoned C-2, or light commercial. Those businesses would be allowed only in C-4,which is zoned for heavy industrial uses.
"Look at the name of this place. It's Paradise I," said Cunningham, who lives with his wife and children three doors down from the store. "You don't start numbering them unless you plan on having to count them."