OCEAN CITY – The City Council unanimously passed a resolution extending the moratorium on sexually-oriented businesses this week, following the decision last week to garner more time to create a plan for zoning and licensing sexually oriented businesses.
The resolution will grant the Mayor and Council a four-month extension on the previous moratorium and will essentially allow officials more time to study and deliberate over the plans that will outline zoning and licensing of sexually oriented businesses in Ocean City.
Last week, City Planner Jesse Houston and City Solicitor Guy Ayres presented the Mayor and Council with the first two drafted plans for zoning and licensing sexually oriented businesses.
Planning for zoning and licensing of sexually oriented businesses became a priority for the Mayor and Council earlier this year when an adult retail store opened on 137th Street and Coastal Highway, bringing the reality that more stores could follow en suite to the town’s attention. As a result, a moratorium was passed; halting any further sexually oriented businesses from setting up shop. With that moratorium set to expire in early October, the need to pass an ordinance outlining zoning and licensing of sexually oriented businesses became imminent.
As a result, Houston appeared before the Mayor and Council last week with two ordinances and two groups of maps, outlining where sexually oriented businesses could potentially be located. The first ordinance calls for a distance of 600 feet from property line to property line between a sexually oriented business and specific facilities outlined in the ordinance. The second ordinance calls for only 300 feet between the sexually oriented businesses and outlined facilities, and measures from the property line of the facility to the nearest point of the building in which the sexually oriented business is located. Both ordinances call for a distance of 150-feet between the businesses and any dwelling.
Houston explained to the Mayor and Council last week that the second ordinance had been drafted to cover concerns over First Amendment violations. The concern is that if the town does not expand on the potential areas for sexually oriented businesses, they could face future lawsuits.
The City Council agreed that more plans needed to be examined before making any decisions. Houston agreed to develop further plans outlining a compromise between the first two ordinances presented. He explained to the council that an extension would need to be added to the current moratorium.
The council voted unanimously, with Councilwoman Margaret Pillas absent, to pass the resolution extending the moratorium.
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