County Wrestles With Adult Shop Law

SNOW HILL- Citizens will get the chance to weigh in on
temporary legislation to regulate adult businesses at a June 19 public hearing.

Worcester County established a moratorium on new adult
businesses in early May, extending through the end of 2007, to give the county
time to put permanent legislation into place.

The interim legislation will back up the moratorium in the
case of a legal challenge to the seven-month ban on adult businesses.

“I think we have to be ahead of this issue,” said
Commissioner Judy Boggs.

The Worcester County Commissioners voted in executive
session this week to engage expert law firm Funk and Bolton to write a
permanent law that will stand up to challenges.

“The county has to proceed like it’s going to do
something. We have an obligation by law,” said Commissioner Virgil Shockley.

County officials are well aware of potential legal
challenges with the bill, but remain positive it will stand up to scrutiny.

“I think the legislation has a 99 percent chance of
passing. It’s something that’s a concern to everyone,” said Commissioner Bud
Church. “It’s something that needs to be done. I’m going to push top get the
legislation passed. I don’t think I’m going to have to push hard.”

Like Ocean City, Worcester County is looking to for places
to allow the businesses without encouraging their proliferation.

“It’s absolutely necessary for us to have some county
legislation in place,” said Commissioner Linda Busick. “There’s many issues we
need to address, certainly we need to determine the location for this type of
business.”

She added, “Traditionally it’s been industrially zoned
areas. That would probably be the most appropriate place for it.”

Locating potential sites for adult businesses is a
slippery slope, according to some commissioners. “The will is there, the intent
is there. You’re going to have to be careful how it’s worded,” Shockley said.

The way the bill is currently worded could cause problems,
Shockley said Tuesday. A movie theater showing ‘R’ rated movies could fall
under the bill as the definitions are written.

“The law is what the law says,” Shockley said. Later, he
said, “You need to make sure you’re restricting what you want to restrict. I
don’t mind controlling it but I do mind when the possibility exists that the
way it’s written goes way beyond the intent,” Shockley said.

 He also questioned
why the county did not wait to see the outcome of Ocean City’s recent efforts
to legislate adult businesses.

Boggs
disagreed. “The county has county issues and county zoning to consider,” she
said. 

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