Adult club is target of residents group

Change in county zoning laws sought

April 11, 2006|By LAURA BARNHARDT | LAURA BARNHARDT,SUN REPORTER

A Catonsville civic group has asked Baltimore County officials for changes in zoning laws that would shut down a members-only, adult social club in the area.

County officials say that Club Tabu, near North Rolling Road and U.S. 40, appears to be operating within the county's zoning laws.

On its Web site, the club bills itself as a "Private, Members-Only social club catering to mature, open-minded adults." Membership is available to couples and single females only, the club Web site says. The club is listed on a swingers' Web site as a place where like-minded singles and couples can meet.

Although the graphics, message postings and Internet links on the Web site have sexual content, Club Tabu's Web site says: "You will not be put in a position to participate in any sexual activities because it's not allowed at the club."

Adult entertainment venues, such as adult video stores, must be in "heavy manufacturing" areas of the county and cannot be near day care facilities and churches, said Councilman Stephen G. Samuel Moxley, a Catonsville Democrat.

But there is no such zoning requirement for social clubs, he said, adding that he is researching how other jurisdictions zone such businesses.

The Catonsville group is asking that social venues such as Club Tabu be placed in the same zoning category as adult entertainment businesses.

"I have mixed emotions," Moxley said. "I'm not sure government should regulate morality or sex issues when it's been consenting adults at a private property. At the same time, I worry about the impact this type of operation has on the neighborhood."

Steve Whisler, president of Westview Park Improvement & Civic Association, said he is worried that the club, in a strip shopping center that includes a fast-food restaurant and other businesses patronized by families, will negatively affect nearby communities.

"One concern we have is that this will impact our property values," said Whisler, who lives less than a quarter-mile from the club. "Another concern is that this will open the floodgates, so to speak, for other sexual entertainment businesses."

The owners of Club Tabu could not be reached for comment yesterday by telephone. The club is open only Friday and Saturday nights, according to the club Web site and the recorded phone message at the business.

"Please understand that we are running a legal business that is zoned properly," the operator of the club wrote in a letter provided to The Sun by Whisler. The letter says the operator of the business, identified as VNR Enterprises LLC, wants to resolve any misunderstandings without resorting to legal action against Whisler or the civic association.

Club Tabu is not named in the letter, though it is registered to the same address as VNR Enterprises.

Whisler said his neighborhood group was working with county officials and had no plans to contact to the club operators directly.

"What we're asking is: Is this something appropriate for a neighborhood?" Whisler said.

Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman, said that police have made no arrests at the club or received any complaints about criminal activity at the business.

laura.barnhardt@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Liz F. Kay contributed to this article.

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