Judge grants county request to force out adult video store

April 13, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge yesterday gave a Glen Burnie community hope that an adult video store will be gone before summer.

Judge Martin A. Wolff granted the county's request to force the video store at the corner of Crain Highway and Wilson Boulevard to move out because it is too close to homes.

The ruling allows Wilou Associates, the building's owners, to order Glen Burnie News and Video Center Inc. out by the end of May. The center has a month-to-month lease.

"We are prepared to take whatever action is appropriate to have the tenant removed," said Edwin A. Lechowicz, Wilou's lawyer. "My client has nothing to do with the operation. We'll tell the tenant they've got to either get out or get into compliance with the law."

The operators can appeal the ruling or force the landlord to evict them.

Opponents of the store, which opened in August 1991, were pleased to hear about the court decision.

A generation ago, Glen Burnie's downtown was on the verge of being overrun with adult bookstores and massage parlors.

"I'm thrilled. It's been a long, hard battle," said Deborah Brunetti, who lives near the video store. "This is definitely a victory."

County Council Chairman C. Edward Middlebrooks, whose district includes the video store, also was delighted by yesterday's decision.

"I'd like to see the place closed, shut down. That's been our objective all along," he said. "We have a chance to get this one wrapped up in a month or so."

David A. Plymyer, deputy county attorney, told Judge Wolff the store was not an ordinary video rental business. A county zoning inspector visited the store in January and found that 3,143 of the store's 4,109 videos had sexually explicit titles, while more than two-thirds of the floor display space was devoted to adult materials.

Three adult video centers -- 2020-C West Street Inc. in Parole, Annapolis Road Ltd. and Fort Meade News and Video in Odenton -- are challenging the constitutionality of the county's law. The Glen Burnie store shares advertising with the Fort Meade store, a store on Pulaski Highway in Baltimore and a Severna Park store that a county judge closed temporarily because it had opened illegally.

In 1991, the county passed a law restricting the location of adult video stores, largely in response to the opening of the Glen Burnie store. The County Council passed another law a year later, after learning that the Office of Planning and Zoning did not enforce the first one. Both laws limited adult entertainment businesses to industrial and commercial areas at least 1,000 feet from homes, churches or schools. Those that were not in those areas had to move.

Ritchie News and Video in Severna Park will have its case heard in Circuit Court tomorrow. Mr. Plymyer said the store's location in the 400 block of Ritchie Highway violates county law.

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