New law would force adult video, book stores to move sooner Earlier measure was not enforced

December 08, 1992|By John Rivera | John Rivera,Staff Writer

The County Council approved a bill last night that will force stores that sell and rent sexually explicit books and videos to move away from residential and most business areas within six months after they receive county notice.

The bill, which takes effect immediately, was drafted after council members discovered that the Office of Planning and Zoning failed to enforce a similar law that was passed more than a year ago.

The new law shortens the time for non-conforming businesses to move out.

The original ordinance, which was passed in November 1991, limited adult entertainment establishments to industrial and commercial areas at least 1,000 feet from homes, churches or schools. Those that were not in those kinds of areas would have to relocate.

The old ordinance also required the county to notify stores if the zoning was changed in the area where they are situated, and then gave stores 120 days to register as non-conforming uses. The stores would have to move within one year of registering with the county, under the old law.

One year later, no notices had been sent to four stores in the county that had been identified as selling adult videos too near churches, schools or homes.

Council Chairman David G. Boschert scolded a planning and zoning official for the delay and demanded an explanation.

"How in the heck did that occur . . . and what are you doing in Planning and Zoning to make sure it doesn't happen again?" Mr. Boschert asked James J. Cannelli, a planning and zoning administrator.

"I think it was just a failure on the part of persons in our

department to make sure that it was implemented," said Mr. Cannelli. He said that a person has been appointed in the department to oversee legislation passed by the council to assure that it is implemented.

The bill adopted last night cuts the time requiring the owner to apply for registration as a nonconforming use to 60 days after receiving notice from the county. After six months, the business must move.

Councilman Edward Middlebrooks, who co-sponsored the legislation with Mr. Boschert, shared his colleague's bewilderment that the first ordinance had not been enforced.

"This is not complicated to do. I can tell you, people are very upset," Mr. Middlebrooks said. He added that he is consulting with the Office of Law to determine whether the action taken by the Glen Burnie News and Video Center, which began last month stocking family videos and moved its sexually explicit videos to a back room, is still covered by the legislation.

The law passed last night, as well as the first measure, does not apply to stores that carry standard movies and keep only a small enclosed section for X-rated videos.

In other business, Mr. Boschert was re-elected as council chairman by a 6-1 vote, with Councilwoman Maureen Lamb the lone dissenter. Carl G. Holland was re-elected as council vice chairman.

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