City looks to crack down on adult venues

 

Legislation requiring adult stores to reduce inventory or move — and to be away from neighborhoods and churches within two years — could take effect in six weeks.

Mayor Jim Ireton this week said he’s pleased the City Council is poised to vote on what he referred to as his amortization legislation.

Adult storyIt would require owners of the stores to come into compliance “by reducing the levels of adult material, or by moving to the appropriate geographic area of the city,” the mayor said.

“The period of time for the businesses to stay the way they are and not be made to leave is two years. The adult store can either change its percentages and not be considered adult, or move.  The two-year period is based upon case law in Maryland that has been upheld,” the mayor stated in a news release.

Ireton explained that, currently, a business is considered adult entertainment if at least 20 percent of its square footage is devoted to adult material and gross revenue from adult sales is at least 20 percent.

The legislation would change that to 15 percent of square footage devoted to adult material and gross revenue from adult sales being 15 percent or more.

City Council President Jake Day is in  favor of the legislation and said it’s a step toward improving the Route 13 business corridor.

“The Route 13 corridor is a liability. It is not a community asset. It needs to become an asset. We’ve got to revitalize that corridor if we ever want to be an attractive place. We’ve got to be an attractive place to be an economically viable place,” Day said.

However, he said, the majority of businesses there “are great.”

“Ninety-five percent of them are great and I hope they stay there, but some of them, like these adult stores, detract from the area. They don’t add to the area,” Day said.

“Our goal is not to put anybody out of business, but to say, the planning director has developed maps  …  where they can exist. Most cities have already done this. Industrial areas is where they can exist,” Day said.

Ireton said the legislation also addresses circumventing city laws by using wall space as a part of the percentages and lifting adult merchandise off the floor to bypass city code.

“The city’s planning and zoning staff updated the 2008 analysis regarding the potential siting of adult entertainment businesses.  It has been confirmed that approximately 6.2 percent of the land area in the city may be eligible for the location of these establishments. This exceeds the 5 percent minimum generally established by case law,”   Ireton stated.

“We know what these establishments have done, up and down the Eastern seaboard, to circumvent local law and have these stores open in inappropriate places. This legislation will amortize these establishments within two years and place them in the appropriate parts of the city, away from churches and residences.

“The industrial parks will become the appropriate place for these businesses. I encourage the City Council to pass this update to Chapter 5 of the City Code and start the clock on the moment these businesses are required to relocate to the appropriate place,” the mayor stated.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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