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Owner of Video Liquidators tells of harassment

HAMDEN, Connecticut — from www.newhavenregister.fcom- Ever since word leaked out that Video Liquidators will be allowed to keep its adult video booths, owner Dave Moon has felt like the harassment is returning.

And what’s worse than the phone calls, according to Moon, is that his 2008 Lincoln Zephyr was extensively scratched, he thinks by someone who doesn’t want him to have the booths.

“Five derogatory phone calls and a keyed-up car are pretty definitive to me, but I could be wrong,” said Moon, exasperated that his car was scratched all over, probably after his business at 2259 State St. was closed Sunday night.

Moon said the harassing calls started at the beginning of the year, after he added video preview booths. Then, someone hung a picture of Jesus on the front of the store. Calls continued when the town issued a cease-and-desist order for the booths, he said.

“Then they started asking me when the booths were coming out,” he said.

“They asked me to repent my sins and that Jesus loved me. I hung up,” Moon said. “ I’m only in this business to feed my two kids.”

Moon said he left his car parked in front of the store while he was on vacation in Las Vegas. “I got back late Monday and I called police on Tuesday. I’m thinking it happened Sunday night” after the store closed, because he was told by an employee Monday that the car was vandalized.

“It looks like they did it with a rock and keys. It looks pretty deliberate to me,” he said.

He scoffed at the suggestion that the criminal mischief was done by a jilted lover. “I’m engaged,” he said.

He thinks it’s someone who follows what goes on at the store.

“I think it’s directly related to the booths,” he said, explaining that he has announced in a few adult publications and on craigslist that the booths will stay.

Police Capt. Ronald Smith said an officer was sent to Video Liquidators on Tuesday afternoon because of the criminal mischief complaint.

According to the police report, vulgar language was scratched into the car.

Smith could not say whether Moon’s theory was correct, but police will continue to investigate.

“It’s very possible it’s random. His car was sitting there for a week,” Smith added.

Town officials earlier this year responded to complaints that Video Liquidators had preview booths.

On March 18, Moon was notified by Zoning Enforcement Officer Holly Masi that he had 72 hours to remove the booths or face fines of $150 a day because he was in violation of the zoning regulations, but the enforcement action went on hold because an appeal was filed.

Video Liquidators is a pre-existing, nonconforming use that has been operating since 1992. It opened before the town had zoning regulations on adult entertainment establishments. Now, they’re only allowed in manufacturing zones by special permit and site plans.

Moon’s lawyer, Daniel Silver, recently argued before the Zoning Board of Appeals that the booths are an “intensification” of the use, not an expansion. He had said that under state law, the intensification of a non-conforming use was valid. He also said the booths are a marketing tool for the adult DVDs.

Assistant Town Attorney Timothy Lee on Thursday said the ZBA gave him permission to negotiate a settlement with Moon. The ZBA will act on the agreement in September. According to the agreement, Video Liquidators will need to reduce its booths from nine to four, based on how many customers are usually in the store at a time.

“The booths are part of the business. Nine doesn’t bear a relationship to the number of customers that buy or view videos,” Lee said.

Lee said the state Supreme Court recently ruled that video preview booths are a customary part of adult bookstores.


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