'Adult' video stores move to dress up their image

November 22, 1992|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Two video stores that a week ago traded only in sexually explicit material are now stocking family fare, but neighbors are not placated and the stores still may be considered "adult" entertainment under county law.

Glen Burnie News and Video Center and its companion store, Fort Meade News and Video Center in Odenton, have begun to include children's cartoons and standard comedy, horror and drama titles.

The Glen Burnie store, at Crain Highway and Wilson Boulevard, now devotes three of its five rooms to adult tapes.

A sign on a door that leads to the rooms says entrants must be 18 and that the store can require proof of age. A display case that once held sex novelties is empty. Sexually explicit magazines have dark paper covers and the racks are near the manager's station.

Cheryl Shoemaker, store manager, said the Glen Burnie store made changes last week "because of the neighborhood." Similar changes are in the works at the Odenton store, she said.

But people in the houses by the Glen Burnie store remain largely unmoved by the change.

"Our concern is still the same. I'm sure they are trying to placate us," said Deborah Brunetti, who rallied the community against the store that opened in August 1991.

The county adopted legislation in November 1991 that limited adult entertainment shops to industrial and commercial areas that are at least 1,000 feet from buildings such as residences, churches and schools.

Besides licensing adult arcades, the ordinance required the county to notify the stores of a change in zoning status, then gave the stores 120 days to register as non-conforming uses, and finally, ordered the stores to move within a year of registering.

However, nearly a year later, the county has failed to send the first notices to the four adult entertainment stores.

To compensate, the administration drafted a bill now pending before the County Council that would trim the notice-to-move time to six months. A Nov. 30 public hearing and vote are scheduled.

The law does not apply to stores that stock mostly standard Hollywood movies but keep a small number of adult movies in an enclosed section.

However, the Glen Burnie and Odenton stores may not have done enough to be excluded from the law. County Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks, a Democrat whose district includes Glen Burnie, said he is asking the county's lawyers to look into that.

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