Thursday, February 21 – OC Formalizes Sex Shop Laws

OCEAN CITY – The issue of sexually oriented businesses was laid to rest with little fanfare this week with the City Council voting unanimously to approve the second reading of two ordinances which outline the zoning and licensing of sexually oriented businesses in Ocean City.

The discussion over sexually oriented businesses spanned nearly one year as the town worked to draw up a fair but restrictive amendment to the town code. The opening of a sex shop in uptown Ocean City spurred the council to make the changes, changes that would limit where sexually oriented businesses could set up shop and how they could operate.

City Solicitor Guy Ayres presented the ordinances to the Mayor and Council this week for second reading. The first ordinance deals with zoning of sexually oriented businesses, outlining limitations on the location of sexually oriented businesses and their distance from certain established businesses.

The Mayor and Council reviewed several options for zoning over the past year and in the end chose to go with the most restrictive option, which calls for sexually oriented businesses to be 600 feet from protected facilities and 300 feet from residential uses.

The ordinance reads that, “There shall be a separation of at least 600 feet, measured from the property line of the facilities identified below that exist on the date of the adoption of this ordinance, to the nearest point of the sexually oriented business.”

The facilities identified include schools, churches, recreational parks, the beach, the Boardwalk, and family or children oriented entertainment businesses such as movie theaters and mini-golf courses.

The second ordinance deals with the business itself, outlining what a sexually oriented business can and cannot do within the Town of Ocean City.

The Mayor and Council were also presented with a resolution establishing licensing fees for sexually oriented businesses and their employees. The resolution calls for a licensing fee of $250 for sexually oriented businesses and $100 per employee.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve both ordinances on second reading as well as the resolution.

For all the week’s news, see The Dispatch tomorrow on more than 100 newsstands in the Greater Ocean City area or its online counterpart at