Adult video store is expected to close in April

January 05, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

A Glen Burnie adult video store is expected to close by April 16 for failing to get rid of much of its sexually explicit material, Deputy County Attorney David A. Plymyer said yesterday.

Glen Burnie News and Video Center agreed Nov. 17 to reduce sexually explicit material to 20 percent of its merchandise by Dec. 17 to comply with county zoning laws, but county inspectors found last month that about half of the store's merchandise was explicit, Mr. Plymyer said.

Under the terms of the agreement, filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, the store in the 600 block of Crain Highway was to get rid of enough adult videos and other sexual merchandise to comply with the county law or be forced to close within 120 days.

Inspectors from the county's Department of Planning and Code Enforcement found that about 50 percent of the store's merchandise, including about 4,000 videos, was "in continuing violation of the zoning code," said Mr. Plymyer.

County zoning laws restrict adult entertainment businesses to commercial and industrial areas at least 1,000 feet from homes, churches and schools.

The parking lot of the store is next to the yards of homes on Wilson Boulevard.

The store, which opened in August 1991, sells and rents mostly adult videos and sells other sexually explicit material. It also rents and sells standard comedy, horror and drama videos, along with standard magazines.

For months, the store has been fighting efforts to close it. And, although it appears this could be the end of the struggle, Mr. Plymyer could not guarantee that the store would close.

"We consider this it, but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it," he said. "Under the agreement, they've bound themselves to do this, but until I see the sheriff carrying out stuff I wouldn't say it's final."

William E. Seekford, attorney for the store's owners, said his clients believe they have complied with the agreement. "Otherwise, they wouldn't have gone into an agreement," he said.

He argued that inspectors counted only the inventory on the first floor of the two-story building and nothing on the second floor. But he conceded that customers were not allowed upstairs.

Mr. Seekford also said that inspectors didn't count bathroom space in estimating the percentage of the building given over to explicit material. He argued that if such space had been counted, the ratio of videos to floor space would have been different. He is waiting for drawings of the building that show the dimensions of each room to prove his point, he said.

"It's just one of those kinds of disputes that may result in another examination," said Mr. Seekford. "We will call upon the landlord to confirm our figures. It's just a sad situation."

Janice B. Rockwell, attorney for Wilou Associates, the building's owners, said yesterday that the landlords won't listen to any more arguments.

"It's out of our hands now," she said. "The understanding was that the [court] agreement was the final agreement, and the landlord is ready to stand behind it."

In April, Circuit Judge Martin A. Wolff granted the county's request to force the video store, which has a month-to-month lease, to move out by allowing the landlords to evict the store. Wilou Associates began eviction proceedings in June in District Court, but the store's owners requested a jury trial, then reached the November agreement to reduce its stock of sexually explicit material.

County officials viewed eviction by the landlord as the quickest way to close the store. The county's efforts to move other adult video stores because of zoning violations have gotten tied up in the courts.

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