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Amazing.Net Causing a Ruckus

Dedham, Massachusetts- Purple plastic screens cover the windows of Amazing.net, shielding outsiders from what’s inside the adult entertainment store.

Unlike mainstream video stores, where posters on the windows draw attention to the latest Disney and Miramax releases, Amazing.net’s titles, such as ”Hell on Heels,” are visible only to those who step inside.

For at least a decade, the store, the only one of its kind in Dedham, has sold adult movies and novelty items and has even hosted such guests as adult film star Ron Jeremy without incident. But a potential legal battle now threatens to disrupt the delicate peace between the town and the porn shop.

Capital Video Corp., a Rhode Island company that operates Amazing.net and 42 other adult stores, wants to move the shop from its location on Providence Highway to another part of the retail complex, to face Eastern Avenue. The company’s lawyer, Lesley Rich, said the owner of the complex has plans for the site that could displace the porn shop.

But at a May 24 meeting, Dedham’s Zoning Board of Appeals turned down the company’s request.

”Where it is now, it’s on a main drag, and you probably won’t have many kids walking by that store right now,” said board chairman Jack Kearney. ”If you moved it, people walk out their front door, and they’re looking at an adult video store.”

Rich said the firm will appeal, either with the state Land Court or Norfolk Superior Court. ”We’re not letting this go,” he said. ”We’re not happy with this at all.”

Complex owner Frank Gobbi Jr. has plans for the building, which also houses a travel agency and a dry-cleaning shop, Rich said.

”At some point we could lose our lease if the landlord ultimately wanted that space,” he said. ”He’s trying to entice a rather large tenant. We’re trying to accommodate him.”

While moving to Eastern Avenue would mean less visibility for Amazing.net, it is better than the alternative, according to Rich. In the early 1990s, Town Meeting designated space for adult entertainment businesses in an industrial area off Sprague Street, near the Boston line. But Rich said the store would find it difficult to do business there.

”The space that they’ve designated for adult stores in Dedham is landlocked,” he said. ”It’s owned by Stop & Shop, and it’s impossible for anyone to get in.”

Rich contends that by denying Amazing.net’s request, the town has infringed upon the store owners’ constitutional right to free speech, since they may have no viable place to sell its wares.

”We pay taxes,” he said. ”People want to shut their eyes to a certain segment of the community, but we’re providing a service.”

Town Meeting voted for the special zone after Amazing.net moved in, so the town could have more control if another adult entertainment establishment tried to set up shop, said Jim MacDonald, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

According to zoning bylaws, such shops cannot be situated within 500 feet of a school, place of worship, or another adult store. It also cannot be within 1,000 feet of any area designated as residential.

Amazing.net has given the town few problems, other than occasional empty video boxes discarded on Providence Highway, MacDonald said. Customers ”buy the videos, but they don’t want to keep the package that goes with it, so they dump it when they get a chance,” he said.

The Dedham shop has ”coexisted with the town without an issue at their current location,” he said. ”But Town Meeting spoke loud and clear.”
 

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