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Elkridge, Maryland- from elkridge.patch.com – An adult video store on Southwestern Boulevard is scheduled for auction by Baltimore County to settle unpaid fines levied for code violations, and may be permanently out of business.
According to the county’s tax sale website, Southwest Video on the 5600 block of Southwestern Boulevard in Halethorpe will be auctioned online on Thursday, June 2, to resolve $59,851.44 in unpaid fines and penalties.
The adult video store has been the bane of neighbors for most of the 12 years it has been located across the street from the MARC Halethorpe station.
According to residents, Southwest Video had a reputation as a meeting place for men to engage in anonymous sex and had viewing booths and glass partitions that facilitated sexual encounters.
Piles of empty nitrous oxide canisters, syringes and other evidence of drug use, along with used condoms, were a common site alongside long-distance trucks parked near the video store.
“Halethorpe Improvement Association has been trying to get rid of them for years,” says the group’s president, Mike McAuliffe.
Laws passed in 1998 limit adult video businesses to commercial areas zoned for heavy industry in order to keep them out of residential neighborhoods.
The county shut down Southwest Video in March of last year for exceeding codes that limit the proportion of floor space allowed for adult material to 20 percent. Above that proportion, and the county considers it an adult entertainment establishment, which must meet different requirements.
According to testinomy at hearings last year, almost all of the floor space at Southwest Video displayed adult material.
Under the terms of the tax sale conducted each spring by Baltimore County, bidders will compete to buy the property and assume the outstanding fines and penalties.
The owners of Southwest Video could pay the fine and penalties before the sale on June 2, or bid on their own property. However, there is no indication that they intend to pay the sanctions, which have been outstanding for more than a year.
Records on file with the Maryland Department of Taxation and Assessment show that Southwest Video is owned by 5648 Southwestern Boulevard LLC. State incorporation law does not require the disclosure of the names of individual owners of limited liability corporations (LLCs).
As recently as last fall, 5648 Southwestern Boulevard LLC was represented by Baltimore attorney Howard J. Schulman. A phone call to Schulman’s office requesting comment was not returned.
When an Arbutus Patch reporter entered the establishment to seek comment from the manager or owner of Southwest Video, he interrupted a man and woman behind the caged-in counter.
Neither person was able to provide the name of the manager or owner nor the name of the person who pays them.
“We’re just cashiers, sorry,” said the man, who declined to identify himself.
According to sources at the county’s Code Inspection and Enforcement office, the video viewing booths have been removed from Southwest Video and the store is presently in compliance with the law.
Neighbors say that the traffic to the store—and the problems it creates—have dropped off dramatically since the viewing booths were removed, and the business is no longer notorious for sexual hook-ups.
Although the new property owners could continue to operate an adult video store, according to McAuliffe it is unlikely the property could meet stricter new adult business codes that go into effect July 1.
Under the new codes, businesses must limit their adult floor space and sales to 15 percent. The new law also increases from 500 to 1,000 feet the distance that adult businesses and tattoo and body-piercing parlors must be from churches, libraries, day care centers, homes or other family facilities.