Council Moves Ahead With Adult Shop Zoning Moratorium

OCEAN CITY – Moratoriums continue to be passed in the wake
of the recent opening of a sexually oriented business in town known as SexStyle
as the Mayor and City Council this time approved a moratorium on zoning these
types of establishments Monday night at the Mayor and City Council’s open
session.

“As you know, the Mayor and City Council passed a
moratorium on business licenses a couple weeks ago and asked the Planning and
Zoning Commission to hold a public hearing and submit a recommendation on a
zoning moratorium on the same uses,” Planning and Community Development
Director Jesse Houston said.

The zoning moratorium is the second to arise following the
outcry of concerned citizens at the lack of legislation regarding adult-themed
retail stores.

The Planning and Zoning Commission did as the council
requested and held that public meeting regarding the zoning process last week
on May 1. After only one person spoke in favor of the moratorium and none spoke
against it, the commission unanimously agreed to forward their recommendation
onto the Mayor and City Council to be finalized Monday night.

Resolution 2007-6, as it is referred to, puts a halt to
all zoning approvals for sexually oriented businesses for a period of six
months or until changes in regulations concerning zoning are approved, which
ever comes first.

There was one minor change to the moratorium that was
recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission and that was from City
Solicitor Guy Ayres who shortened the duration of the moratorium.

“I changed it to five months to coincide with the
moratorium on business licenses because one month of that has expired,” he
said.

It was then that Councilman Lloyd Martin made a motion to
approve the moratorium and Councilman Jim Hall seconded it. It was quickly
approved unanimously without any further discussion by the public or city
officials.

As for the draft of zoning amendments the Planning and
Zoning Commission approved of and forwarded to the Mayor and City Council last
week, they were not touched upon and will most likely come up again in a few
weeks when city officials have taken a closer look at the changes to ensure
everything is correct.

As of last week, the draft includes amendments stating
that a 600-foot distance between property lines must exist between sexually
oriented businesses and places deemed adversely affected by these types of
establishments. They include a range of things from places of worship and
schools to beaches and other locations where children might gather.

Other distance regulations include a 150-foot buffer from
any dwelling, including mobile homes and manufactured housing. Lastly, the
sexually oriented businesses will only allowed to be in areas zoned SC-1 and
LC-1, or shopping centers and local commercial areas.

This
leaves approximately 1 percent of Ocean City’s city limits available for these
types of establishments, which is still within the law. However, at the rate
Ocean City is growing, city officials may have to reconsider these down the
road if they are accepted as is since dwellings continue to pop up all along
the island, continually picking away at the space that must be legally provided
somewhere for adult themed stores. 

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