Tue09022014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

   2014 39.95 HSD w VIDor PH-Banner2-500-x-125

Discussion on adult- themed businesses causes some blushing

The Colonial Beach Planning Commission members had a blushing conversation while debating the issue of prohibiting adult bookstores and other adult theme-related services at the September planning commission meeting.

The commission has been reviewing and updating one section of the zoning ordinance at a time. Presently, the commission is working on the Commercial Residential (CR) District Ordinance.

After a briefing on the changes, Gary Mitchell, Director of the C.B. Planning Commission, recommended that the commission discuss the matter further, then go to a public hearing in October. If there is any public input, the commission can make changes then, before sending it to the town council.  

The reading was a second draft for the commission. The commission has discussed the issue of restricting adult bookstores in the town’s CR district. The CR district is located along the north side of Washington Avenue, from the corner of Boundary St. to Colonial Avenue,  along Colonial up to Garfield Ave., along Garfield to First Street, and along First Street up to McKinney Blvd. (Route 205).

Currently, the CR district includes an alternator repair service, a car restoration service/museum, single-family dwellings, professional offices, restaurants, personal services establishments and a couple of retail shops. In order to address this multitude of existing uses, the commission looked at these uses and attempted to come up with a list of principal uses that would include the existing types of uses, as well as other similar ones.

The commission changed the format of the ordinance to include a table showing the specifications for bulk and area regulations, and to eliminate excessive text. The ordinance now includes floor/area ratios, which were not included before.

The ordinance allows two types of uses-permitted/primary uses and accessory uses. Permitted/primary uses do not require any special permits and establish the primary use of the business on the property. Accessory uses may only be secondary, and may only be established after the primary use of the business on the property has been established.

Adult bookstores
One of the changes, previously discussed, concerned the allowance of adult bookstores. Commissioner Kent Rodeheaver was particularly concerned that if the allowance was left in the ordinance, it might attract such a business to be located in a residential area, which he believes is not consistent with what the town’s citizens would want.

At the Sept. 5 meeting, Mitchell said, “We took out the reference to bookstores because it created a constitutional issue. You have to identify bookstores as being adult or not-adult.” Mitchell said that he would be more comfortable having the town attorney address that reference.

Mitchell said that originally it stated that bookstores were allowed, ‘excluding adult bookstores’. “I’m not sure, constitutionally, if you can exclude one type of bookstore and not another, without having some other type of ordinance to disallow it.”

Mitchell explained how there may need to be one ordinance covering all adult-themed materials and services throughout the town, and that he would rather consult the town attorney on that matter, as well.

Rodeheaver asked, “As it stands now, would anyone be allowed to come in and open an adult bookstore?”
Mitchell answered, “As it stands now, someone could open one anywhere in town.”

The commission began a discussion on the issue. Other members did not express either their approval or disapproval of adult bookstores, but continued (at times blushing) to discuss the constitutionality of the issue.
Commissioner Robin Schick questioned Mitchell, and established that there is, in fact, an ordinance that addresses adult-themed sales and services, but that it is very vague and needs revamping. Schick believes that no one will open an adult bookstore in this small town.

Rodeheaver was steadfast in establishing a message from the town that adult bookstores are unwanted.

Mitchell advised that it would not hold up in court. Rodeheaver continued to insist that he didn’t care [about it holding up in court], and that the message should be established. He believes that if there is not a rule against it, someone will pursue opening one.
Mitchell advised that, at present, the best way to prevent an adult bookstore in the ordinance before them, was to either deny any bookstores or to make bookstores only legal with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

Chairperson Maureen Holt said that she felt that it would be best to work on a town-wide, adult-themed business ordinance.

Rodeheaver moved to leave the language in the ordinance as being restrictive to adult bookstores, but failed both times to obtain a second on his motions, causing them to fail.

The discussions created some blushing among commission members, but was handled tastefully.

Rodeheaver then moved to task an appropriate committee or board with coming up with an ordinance to disallow all adult-themed services. Again, his motion received no second, and again failed.

Holt suggested that Rodeheaver address the town council at the next meeting with his request.

Jay Jarvis, an audience member who attends most government meetings regularly,  recommended that Rodeheaver bring this issue up to the town’s Economic Development Committee in a work session of the council.

Commissioner Ed Grant felt that there should be a briefing to the public to allow them to understand the changes in the ordinance. He asked if the changes would apply only to new construction, and other members confirmed that it did.

Ultimately, the ordinance remained with no reference to bookstores of any kind, either as a permitted/primary use or as a CUP.

Linda Farneth

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