Residents Victorious In Battle Against Pornography

The Top Stories Of 1991

December 29, 1991|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe

Between massage parlors that offered more than massage and video stores that offered more than family entertainment, North County residents had more than their share of fights against sleaze in 1991.

Butthe residents came out victorious, closing one massage parlor and prompting another to reopen as a health club. Also, under legislation the County Council passed in November, adult video stores in Glen Burnie and elsewhere in the county have a year to relocate to areas zonedfor heavy industrial or highway commercial use.

Last summer, after a months-long police investigation, two massage parlors in Linthicum and Hanover were closed for violating county zoning laws. The parlors -- V.I.P. on Camp Meade Road in Linthicum andRose's Oriental Spa on Candlewood Drive in Hanover -- were located in community retail and light industrial zones, respectively. Massage parlors are allowed as special exceptions only in general commercial and highway commercial districts.

Although Rose's has reopened as a health spa after buying $60,000 worth of exercise equipment, the V.I.P. spa remains closed, said County Councilman George F. Bachman, D-Linthicum.

During the investigation, female masseuses in both parlors were observed manually stimulating male clients, police said. Butmasturbation is not illegal under county or state solicitation laws,which cover only cases involving intercourse or "unnatural sexual practices," defined as oral or anal sex.

Under legislation that tookeffect in early December, managers and technicians of massage establishments will have to be licensed by the Department of Inspections and Permits. Masseuses cannot work on members of the opposite sex or touch "erogenous areas" and are required to have at least 200 hours of training from a nationally recognized institution. The bill exempts medical professionals.

At the same time the massage drama was unfolding, residents in Glen Burnie and Odenton were fighting the opening of two "adult entertainment" shops that wanted to include peep shows on their premises. The shop in Odenton never opened, and the request for peep shows in the Glen Burnie store was withdrawn.

But even without the peeps, Paradise One, which specializes in pornographic materials, opened on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie as an adult video storelast August.

Residents in neighborhoods closest to the store immediately formed a citizens committee, hoping to use community pressure, letter writing and local legislation to remove the store.

Those opposing Paradise One said it was too close to homes and schools and brought "the wrong element" into the community. Sympathetic County Council members then passed the legislation that will force adult videostores out of residential areas within a year.

"We're very happy about how it turned out," said Glen Burnie resident Debbie Brunetti, who played a central role in the campaign to oust the book store. "We've had a lot of positive feedback -- phone calls, congratulations, people coming up in the grocery store and saying, 'Thank you for getting rid of it.' "

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