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Committee Approves Ban on Peeps

NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts – In what some called a first step in the fight to restrict pornography in Northampton, the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee last night both approved bans against adult viewing booths in most sections of the city.

The zoning amendment is one of several proposals aimed at limiting the size, appearance and makeup of adult stores.

The viewing-booth measure now goes to the City Council for a final vote. Two other amendments concerning sex-store signage and product visibility still were under discussion.

Although the amendments are not aimed specifically at a particular business, they were formulated following a proposal by Capital Video Corp., based in Cranston, R.I., to open an adult store at 135 King St.

Capital Video’s initial plan called for private viewing booths where customers could watch sexually explicit films. The company has dropped the booths from its latest proposal.

The viewing-booth amendment, approved unanimously, would ban any such booths along with live nudity in every zoning district except highway business. In a highway business zone, those uses would have to be at least 500 feet from any residence, church, school, day-care center, park or playground.

Adam Cohen, who formed the group NoPornNorthampton in reaction to Capital Video’s plan, urged the Planning Board to include adult theaters in the amendment.

Cohen defined an adult theater as a place where more than one person could view pornography at a time. The board ultimately decided that it would need to conduct another hearing before it could make such a change.

Capital Video’s opponents took the opportunity last night to reiterate their concerns about both the proposed store and pornography in general.

“It’s not an adult video store, it’s a pornography shop,” said Diane Jo Davies of Graves Avenue.

“This is like putting a house of ill repute in Memorial Hall after the senior center leaves.”

Peter Brooks, a lawyer who lives at 17 New St., said the amendments, particularly the one restricting visibility of products inside the store, could provoke a law suit by Capital Video.

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