Sex Shop Moratorium Okayed In Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – After weeks of trials and tribulations, the
Mayor and City Council was finally able to put something concrete into the
books that would prevent any type of adult oriented retail stores from
obtaining a business license for a period of six months or until the Planning
and Zoning Commission is able to develop zoning laws pertaining these types of
businesses.

Resolution 2007-5 was unveiled Monday night at a Mayor and
City Council meeting by City Solicitor Guy Ayres. The resolution breaks down
all types of adult oriented retail stores and other establishments in an
attempt to classify the type of business the town of Ocean City wants gone from
its limits.

Soon after the resolution was presented, a motion was made
to vote on it. Without any further discussion on the topic by city officials,
the council went ahead and unanimously approved the moratorium.

The resolution begins by saying, “Whereas,
sexually oriented businesses require special supervision from the public safety
agencies of the county and the town in order to protect and preserve the
health, safety, morals, and welfare of the patrons of such businesses as well
as the citizens of the City.”

It continues, saying how
business of this nature can sometimes encourage illegal activities such as
prostitution to take place and can cause neighboring properties to lose their
value, an “urban blight” no city wants.

“There is convincing documented
evidence that sexually oriented businesses, because of their very nature, have
a deleterious effect on both the existing businesses around them and the
surrounding residential areas adjacent to them, causing increased crime and the
downgrading of property values,” the resolution reads.

The resolution goes on to define establishments that would
fall under this moratorium such as adult arcades, adult bookstores, adult
novelty stores, adult video stores, adult cabarets, adult theaters, and adult
motels.

In closing, the resolution states its overall purpose by
saying, “The Mayor and City Council of Ocean City has determined that it needs
time to study the totality of the deleterious effect of sexually oriented
business from a zoning and locational criteria and a comprehensive regulatory
legislation scheme to protect the citizens of the town and to prevent a
proliferation of sexually oriented businesses while the Planning Commission and
the Mayor and City Council of Ocean City properly study and analyze zoning
and regulation issues, that the public health, safety and general welfare
is best served by imposing a moratorium on the issuance of business licenses
for sexually oriented businesses.”

The scramble to put legislation on the books began almost
a month ago when the adult retail store, SexStyle, owned and operated by Ofir
Bouzaglo and Moshe Bitton, opened its doors for business in the Bayside
Shopping Plaza on 137th Street.

Three days later, citizens concerned about the
establishment took their complaints to the Mayor and City Council meeting and
urged them to look into regulating businesses of that nature.

After
a week of trying, city officials found they were helpless in stopping these
businesses as long as they conducted everything else by the book. However, a
motion by Councilman Jim Hall during a Mayor and City Council work session last
week to look into a moratorium to stop licenses for these types of businesses
from being issued was unanimously approved. 

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