Northampton, MA (PRWEB) January 11, 2007
Michael A. Kirby and Lucille J. Stone, long-time residents of Northampton, have appealed the Northampton Planning Board's approval of Capital Video's plans to build an adult retail store at 135 King Street in Northampton. Capital Video, based in Cranston, RI, is a large national chain of adult stores owned by Kenneth Guarino. The appeal was filed with the Massachusetts Land Court on January 8, 2007. The case number is 07MISC336907. The named defendants are the members of the Planning Board and Capital Video.
Northampton (population 29,000) is the home of Smith College, the nation's largest liberal arts college for women. The city is famous for its pedestrian-friendly historic downtown, which is located less than half a mile from the proposed adult store.
Kirby and Stone live within 300 feet of 135 King Street. The front of the adult store will be plainly visible from the front porch of their home, which they have lived in for 25 years.
The goal of the couple's appeal is not to prevent any kind of adult store from opening at 135 King, but for Capital Video to prepare a site plan that conforms to Northampton's Zoning Ordinance and addresses the concerns of the community. Among other things, Northampton's Zoning Ordinance forbids signs that depict sexual conduct or sexual excitement.
Immediately after the Planning Board rendered its 4-3 approval of Capital Video's plans on December 14, dissenting board member Kenneth Jodrie called Capital Video's submission "one of the poorest I've seen in a long time, both in terms of the quality of the drawings and making no effort to meet the requirements of what the town has been talking about for the last three months."
To keep costs reasonable, Kirby and Stone have filed their appeal pro se. They have not engaged a lawyer to represent them at this time, nor is NoPornNorthampton formally involved with their appeal. NoPornNorthampton is a group of Northampton citizens who organized in mid-2006 to raise awareness about porn and who have been critical of Capital Video's efforts to locate a hard-core pornography shop in the midst of homes, churches, counseling centers and a school of dance.
On December 20, NoPornNorthampton issued an open letter to Capital Video attorney Michael Pill, inviting him to dialogue with the community about the deficiencies in Capital Video's plans. These deficiencies include adherence to a non-qualifying "Victoria's Secret standard" for signage, failure to demonstrate safe pedestrian and vehicular flows in and around the site, and failure to address public health and safety issues around the site. Other Capital Video stores, for example, have experienced problems with hazardous trash, such as that seen in Kittery, ME and Meriden, CT.
Issues with Capital Video's plans that are debatable, such as whether to fence off their parking lot from a bike trail that will run behind it, should receive input from professionals such as the Northampton police.
Despite Capital Video's posture of openness at their December 14 Planning Board hearing and in an earlier letter to city officials, no response has been received to date to NoPornNorthampton's letter. Kirby and Stone acted to stand up for the quality of their neighborhood and filed their appeal before the close of the 20-day appeal period.
It is hoped that Capital Video will now devote their energies to improve their site plan and "provide a comfortable environment to all" (their stated goal) rather than attempt to exhaust and outspend the community with legal machinations.
To learn more about the appeal and follow this developing story, please see NoPornNorthampton.org.