Adult Bookstores Seek Exemptions From Zoning Restrictions

December 08, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

A Bel Air lawyer representing four adult bookstores wants the shops exempted from zoning restrictions in a bill a committee is drafting.

Jack T. Feldman said the bill, as written, would put two of the shops -- one in Edgewood and another in Havre de Grace -- out of business because they could not meet proposed zoning requirements prohibiting them with 1,000 feet of schools, churches and residential areas.

"What you're doing is closing up the shops," Feldman told membersof a panel redrafting a bill to regulate adult bookstores in the county at their meeting Friday.

The panel was appointed by CouncilmanPhilip J. Barker, D-District F, to redraft the bill. Barker withdrewthe original bill in November after county department chiefs said itwould be too difficult to enforce.

The group will meet again 10 a.m. Jan. 10 in the council chambers of the County Courthouse.

Barker has said the bill is being drafted, in part, to reduce crime related to the adult book shops and to protect the health of shop customers.

The draft bill, based on one in Dallas, would require adult-book store owners to obtain annual operating licenses and allow county inspectors to check on their establishments.

The stores generally carry sexually explicit magazines, films, books and sexual aides.

Feldman, who sits on the 13-member committee, said U.S. Books in Edgewood and The Depot near Havre de Grace, fall within 1,000 feet of parks, churches and residential areas, which would prohibit them from staying in business under the proposed bill.

The attorney said the four bookstores would not oppose other requirements in the bill, if they would be freed from meeting the 1,000-foot barrier requirement.

Jean Stewart, representing the county Department of Planning and Zoning on the committee, said she doesn't see a problem with grandfathering the shops, since they would still have to meet the intent of the bill.

She noted that bookstores are permitted uses in the county's business districts.

But the Rev. Darryl Zoller, a Methodist minister from Darlington on the committee, suggested that the county poll residents who live near the bookstores to see what they think of the zoning issue.

"Residents expect the zoning laws to protect them from known evils," Zoller said.

Barker, whose council district has three of the adult shops, said citizens have not voiced to him concernsabout a specific shop, although they registered general complaints about adult bookstores.

Harford State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, another committee member, said he didn't see the need for a poll, noting that citizens will be given an opportunity to address the bill at a public hearing that would be scheduled before the council acts on any proposed bill.

Anne Arundel County already has a similar restrictive law in place.

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