Salisbury, MA: Letting One Adult Entertainment Shop Set Up in an Area Makes It Easy for Others to Follow


The struggle over adult-use zoning in Northampton shouldn’t be seen as just an effort to keep one porn shop from 135 King Street. When one adult entertainment business establishes itself in an area, it makes it easy for others to follow. The Boston Globe reports from Salisbury, MA:

With two adult clubs already established and a third application recently approved by the Board of Selectmen, town officials are worried that Salisbury is fast becoming a haven for such businesses, thanks to its proximity to adult entertainment nearby in New Hampshire and its access to interstate highways…

Salisbury has created a new set of zoning bylaws that control where these businesses can and cannot locate…

“We don’t want to be known as the adult entertainment capital of the state,” said town manager Michael Basque. “I think we wanted to control our destiny.”

Salisbury’s plight and the town’s approach is typical of communities throughout the North Weekly region. Wakefield, Salisbury, Saugus, Ipswich, Lynn, Georgetown, Malden, Melrose, Peabody, Revere and Everett have all passed or are in the process of passing zoning laws that would restrict where such businesses can locate…

And for towns like Salisbury, there is little that can be done to stop other adult entertainment business from setting up shop if similar uses have already been allowed, town officials have said. Salisbury currently has two nude dancing venues–the Lion’s Den and Ten’s Show Club at Salisbury Beach…

Using the collective experience of other cities and towns and making sure that what they were doing would pass muster with the state Attorney General’s Office, the [Saugus] Planning Board drew up zoning bylaws that limit adult uses to areas along the largely built-up Route 1 business corridor. The Planning Board passed the changes unanimously. Selectmen will vote on the matter Jan. 12.

“We can’t fight it,” [Planning Board member Ellen] Burns said, “so we might as well try and control it.”

In Salisbury, the new bylaws dictate that all adult entertainment establishments are prohibited from locating anywhere other than the town’s Industrial District near Interstate 95, a Commercial 2 District outside of downtown, and the Beach Commercial District.

Buildings must be 400 feet from residences and 1,000 feet from schools, churches and other adult entertainment centers…

“The whole point of this isn’t to restrict adult uses but to mitigate the negative secondary impacts of adult use,” said Marc Resnick, Salisbury’s director of planning and development. “State law has said that you don’t have to provide the most economically desirable positions but you do have to provide the most reasonable and practical location in the community.”
“Zone Laws Limit Adult Nightclubs: Area Towns, Cities Making Access Tough”, The Boston Globe, 12/28/97

3 thoughts on “Salisbury, MA: Letting One Adult Entertainment Shop Set Up in an Area Makes It Easy for Others to Follow

  1. I don’t see how 9-year-old articles are really applicable to present-day Northampton. What would be helpful is if you could show the effects of these laws: have they been successful in keeping out adult businesses? If adult businesses have opened, what effect have they had on the towns?

    No one is questioning whether or not Northampton has the right to pass these laws; certainly, they do. I think the larger question is, why do we need to?

  2. Porn has gotten progressively more violent and degraded over the years, and I’ve been shown nothing that suggests the risk of secondary effects of porn shops has lessened in recent times. The Capital Video experience in Kittery, for example, dates from this year. We have provided ample evidence of the secondary effects of adult businesses, from large cities to towns similar in size to Northampton:

    New York City Planners Document Secondary Effects of Adult Uses, Support Zoning

    Giuliani Understood How “Small Things” Matter

    New York City Porn Shops Depress Demand for Neighboring Properties

    Even Hollywood Moved to Crack Down on Its Adult Businesses

    Why Hollywood Reached for Zoning: Crime, Business Failure, Tourists Fleeing

    Local Businesses Say Porn Shop Hurts Downtown Ypsilanti

    Impact of Porn Shops on a Community

    Des Moines: Adult Uses Cause Business Failures, Scare People Away

    Law Article: “Preventing the Secondary Effects of Adult Entertainment Establishments: Is Zoning the Solution?”

    The Kittery Experience

    The Blaine Experience

    If a law says a large porn shop can’t be within 500 feet of a home, then it can’t be within 500 feet of a home. That’s a success to me.

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