News Column

Adult entertainment ordinance examined for Middletown

July 15, 2014

By Ike Wilson, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

July 15--MIDDLETOWN -- The Town Council introduced an ordinance Monday that would regulate adult entertainment businesses in Middletown.

The Planning Commission recommended the ordinance because Middletown's zoning regulations do not address adult entertainment in any form, which means it's allowed, Town Administrator Andrew Bowen said.

"Whether you agree or disagree with adult entertainment, it's a freedom-of-speech issue," Bowen said. "But we can put certain restrictions on it."

According to the ordinance, a property may be used as an adult entertainment business provided it is not within 1,500 feet of a school, park, child day care center, church, house of worship or another adult entertainment business.

The primary purpose adult entertainment regulation is being brought up is to identify where the business can be located, Burgess John Miller said.

There is some confusion about the ordinance, Miller said.

"It looks as though we're approving an ordinance to allow this; if someone wants to open such a business, there's no way to stop it," Miller said. "It's a constitutional right. We want to be restrictive. We're not encouraging it."

Middletown resident Tawn O'Connor asked the Town Council if the proposed 1,500-foot setback could be extended even farther.

"Can that 1,500 feet be adjusted to 5,000 feet?" O'Connor said.

The 1,500-foot setback for adult entertainment business has gone through court review, Miller said.

"Well, can it be 2,500 feet?" O'Connor said.

"Just remember, we can't outlaw it completely," Miller said. "Nothing exists in our codes to deal with it. That's why we're addressing it."

Nobody has proposed or suggested an adult entertainment business in Middletown, Bowen said, adding that the Planning Commission usually updates, adds or removes codes.

A public hearing will be scheduled to discuss the ordinance.

Solar agreement

The Town Council approved an agreement to allow RER Energy Group to build a $1.2 million solar array to generate electricity for Middletown's water and sewer infrastructure.

The agreement locks in Middletown's cost per kilowatt-hour over the next 20 years, which helps substantially with the budget, Bowen said. That means, you know what your electricity cost will be, he said.

Middletown uses about 1 million kilowatts annually, which translates into more than $150,000. The project is expected to save the town $10,000 in its first year, which also keeps water and sewer rates down by 1 percent, Bowen said.

"It helps keep water and sewer increases lower than they have to be, and it's great for the environment," Bowen said.

Middletown resident Bob Smart said he has attended most of the solar energy meetings, and believes the Town Council has given the matter due diligence.

"I think it's a good deal" for Middletown, Smart said.

The project is expected to be up and running by Jan. 1.

Follow Ike Wilson on Twitter: @ikewilson99.


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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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