Adult bookstore sues, challenging ordinance

Business has no standing for action, judge has ruled


Despite a ruling by a federal judge, a lawyer representing an adult video and book store in Elkridge has challenged a Howard County ordinance that restricts sexually oriented businesses.

On behalf of Nathaniel Lightfoot Inc., which operates as Adult Video & Books on U.S. 1 in Elkridge, Howard J. Schulman filed a lawsuit on July 19 in Howard County Circuit Court accusing the county of attempting "to chill and inhibit and otherwise prevent the exercise of freedom of speech and to prevent persons from viewing sexually explicit materials in Howard County."

The county law, adopted in December 1996, limits adult bookstores, movie theaters and live entertainment clubs to general business areas.

The statute also requires such businesses to be at least 500 feet from residential communities, churches, day care centers, libraries, parks and schools, and at least 2,500 feet from any other sexually oriented store.

But the county Board of Appeals determined last August that the business did not have standing to challenge the ordinance because it is in an industrial district, which does not allow retail establishments as permitted uses.

After an appeal, Chief Judge J. Frederick Motz of the U.S. District Court in Baltimore agreed with the county in April.

In a related matter, Schulman and county attorneys are preparing for a Dec. 14 hearing before Circuit Judge James B. Dudley, who will decide whether to block the county from forcing another adult video and book store, Pack Shack Inc., to move from its location on U.S. 40 in Ellicott City.

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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