Bill limits adult stores to industrial locations Businesses vow to sue over council approval

March 17, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A bill that would relegate adult entertainment to heavy manufacturing zones was unanimously approved by the Baltimore County Council last night -- a move that immediately prompted threats of lawsuits.

The bill restricts new adult book and video stores, tattoo and massage parlors to heavy industrial zones scattered around the county, while it allows six existing tattoo parlors to stay where they are.

"I believe this bill is extremely important for us," Council Chairman Stephen G. Sam Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat, said before the vote.

"We have to work to save our neighborhoods. We have to work to save our children," he added.

Towson Republican Councilman Douglas B. Riley agreed, saying sexually oriented intimate apparel store in the 400 block of York Road has driven three other businesses away from the county seat.

The council last night also unanimously approved a bill regulating wireless cellular phone towers.

But it was the adult entertainment bill that prompted an immediate response.

"We're going to fight it to the very end," said David Drutz, who owns four video stores that sell unadvertised adult videos from back rooms.

William Seekford, a lawyer representing several adult-oriented businesses, claimed that the new law is an unconstitutional assault on freedom of speech.

The adult entertainment law is an effort to bolster the renewal of older communities by banishing such businesses to less visible locations -- land zoned for industrial uses.

An initial planning board recommendation to allow adult entertainment businesses in some roadside commercial zones was rejected by the Ruppersberger administration, which produced the more restrictive proposal approved last night.

The law would limit new adult book and video stores, peep shows, massage and tattoo parlors to industrially zoned land away from the county's commercial corridors. They would have to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools, homes, churches or parks and at least 2,500 feet away from each other.

Existing businesses would have one year to move, except for tattoo and massage parlors, which can stay where they are -- if they've been in business for the past year.

Video stores with less than 20 percent of their stock or floor space in adult materials also could remain where they are under the new law.

The bill regulating cellular phone towers, which are unpopular in rural and residential areas, uses a long list of technical requirements to encourage them in commercial areas and discourage them in rural and residential areas.

Pub Date: 3/17/98

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