- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2008

OCEAN CITY (AP) — During a work session Wednesday, the mayor and Town Council agreed to limit sexually oriented businesses after putting three moratoriums on licenses for those businesses.

“I think, considering today we have over 1,500 business licenses and only one in this category, that this ordinance will parallel what we have in existence,” Mayor Rick Meehan said.

Two new alternatives were presented to the council by City Planner Jesse Houston, who had given the council four earlier options since its request for legislation in May. The new alternatives narrow the available locations.

One option would require that sexually oriented businesses be 600 feet away from facilities and 225 feet from residential property, yielding 6.8 acres of property, Mr. Houston said. The second option, which the council chose, would require that the shops be 600 feet from facilities and 300 feet from residential property, which gave 2 acres of available property.

Mr. Houston said the restriction allows only one possible location for these shops — in the Food Lion shopping center between 118th and 119th streets.

The council held a public hearing on the issue in May after the creation of a sexually oriented business in Ocean City, which remains in business.

The planning and zoning commission then ruled that the provisions would prevent the businesses from locating near religious buildings, schools, public parks, children’s entertainment, dry nightclubs, the boardwalk and public beaches.

The mayor and some council members had wanted to ban the shops altogether, but Councilman Jay Hancock said that could land the town in federal court.

City Solicitor Guy Ayers said the final ordinance will be reviewed by the council before the current moratorium ends March 1.

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