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In Maine: Adult Book & Video issue may be decided next month

FARMINGDALE, Maine — Some residents aren’t happy selectmen have scheduled a special town meeting for a town vote that could alter an ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses.

Residents at that Sept. 13 meeting will be asked either to repeal the town’s ordinance or to allow 1st Amendment Adult Book & Video to reopen at 285 Maine Ave., next to the Town Office.

At a public hearing Wednesday, selectmen were told they should have waited to decide the issue until annual town meeting in March, when there’s generally higher turnout.

“We felt (the Sept. 13 meeting) was the right way to go,” Selectman Eugene Proulx said.

Owner Will Stuart, who closed the business June 12 to comply with the town ordinance, was given five years from the time the ordinance was adopted in March 2002 to comply.

The bookstore is in violation of the ordinance because it is within 1,000 feet of a residence. Stuart submitted a petition to the town asking that the ordinance be amended so his business can continue to operate at its current site.

Stuart also submitted a signed petition asking that the ordinance be repealed. But he said that move was a mistake, and that the lawyer who drew up the paperwork worded it wrong.

Still, the petition has been submitted, so selectmen had to act on it.

Many of the approximately 20 people who showed up for the public hearing Wednesday at Hall-Dale High School seemed unmoved by Stuart’s plight.

“We gave him five years to move his business and now he wants to be grandfathered,” said Judi Hansen, a resident.

“This is just like a back door.”

Proulx said a newsletter will be sent to all residents with information on the referendum questions prior to the special town meeting.

Opponents of repealing the ordinance say any number of sexually-oriented business could move into town if repeal is successful.

As it stands now, any such business can move to Farmingdale as long as they meet the 1,000-foot residential buffer, and other requirements.

If Stuart’s business is grandfathered — or allowed to continue at its present location — Stuart, or anyone he sells his business to, would be allowed to operate that business there indefinitely, opponents said.

On April 2, Code Enforcement Officer Robert St. Pierre cited Stuart with six violations, including the construction of viewing rooms that are supposed to have at least one side totally open to public view.

Belinda Gaudet, another resident, said the vote should be held at the March town meeting, which typically has higher attendance.

She also wasn’t pleased that Stuart — not the town — would pay for costs incurred by the Sept. 13 special town meeting. She said it was a conflict of interest.

Proulx said Stuart, a resident who has been in business for 15 years, has done what he was supposed to do by ceasing his business at Maine Avenue. He also credited Stuart with attempting to try and reopen his business via petition.

“All he ever asked for is to speed it up and not make him wait until the town meeting in March,” Proulx said. “You people have got to talk it up. It’s up to you (to decide).”

Many, such as Charles Fickett, already have.

“This is a very serious question,” Fickett said.

“If this thing is repealed, it’s an invitation to anyone to come in here and peddle sexual material. I don’t think Farmingdale wants that kind of a label.”

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