Gazette: “60 days to porn on King? Permit in hand, shop eyes spring opening”

Today’s Gazette reports that Northampton has issued Capital Video a building permit (PDF) for a porn shop on 135 King Street [see a PDF of the floor plan]. Due to its proximity to homes, the store may have no more than 1,000 square feet of adult material on display.

The Gazette notes that an appeal of the Planning Board’s approval of Capital Video’s plans is still actively being pursued by Mike Kirby and Lu Stone, who live within 300 feet of the proposed store. Among other things, Capital Video has only promised to adhere to a “Victoria’s Secret” standard for signage. This standard [example] does not appear to comply with Northampton’s ordinances [see PDF], which forbid signs that depict sexual conduct or sexual excitement.

In the Gazette article, Capital Video Lesley Rich makes fresh promises to the community. The company, he says, plans to cooperate with city officials “just to make sure we’re heading in the right direction… We’re really going to try to satisfy everyone in the community without litigation and controversy.” That would be a welcome change from their attitude at their December 14 Planning Board hearing, where Capital Video attorney Michael Pill said that if the board rejected their Site Plan based on signage issues, Capital Video would take the city to court and “I’d love that. I’d make a fortune.” See the video clip:

The Gazette reports that according to Rich, “Capital Video has signed a long-term lease in the 15-to-20-year range with the property’s owners, Barry G. and Annette E. Goldberg, of Longmeadow.” Some of the extra space in the building may be leased to another business.

8 thoughts on “Gazette: “60 days to porn on King? Permit in hand, shop eyes spring opening”

  1. I watched that little video. You might want to add, in the spirit of honesty and respect for the intelligence of your readers, that the guy in the video laughed after he said the thing about how he’d love it if he had to take the city to court. Lauging, like it was a joke. And you might also consider adding that the other people in the room, who appear to be the members of the City Council, all laughed, too. Laughing, like they thought it was a joke, too. A funny joke.

    I just thought you might want to add that stuff, out of a sense of honesty and respect for the intelligence of your readers.

  2. I provided the video so people can judge for themselves. Capital Video’s eagerness for litigation was well displayed in Kittery, Maine in 2006. The Portsmouth Herald rebuked them in June, saying,

    “…Kittery recently passed an ordinance that requires the owners of
    Amazing.net, located on Route 236, to remove the doors from the viewing
    booths. Once again, the ordinance was based on public health concerns
    because – just as had happened in Portsmouth – officials found semen on
    the walls and seats of the booths.

    “And, once again, the owner of the adult store – in this case, Capital
    Video Corp. – is attempting to fight the ordinance in court. On
    Wednesday, a York County Superior Court judge rejected the owner’s call
    for a temporary restraining order that would have freed the shop from
    having to comply with the new ordinance.

    “‘There is no fundamental liberty interest to view sexually explicit
    materials in a closed viewing booth at a business,’ Superior Court
    Judge Paul Fritzsche ruled.

    “…While Fritzsche’s ruling should have settled the issue, the main
    legal action brought by Capital Video claiming the town violated the
    company’s constitutional right to privacy remains active. No date for a
    trial on the merits of that claim has been set…”

    As for Michael Pill, his own eagerness for litigation helped force a multiracial church in Amherst to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs over five years to defend its plans.

  3. I don’t know if you were at the December 14 hearing, Mr. “O’Waggle”, but I was. It’s hard to hear in the video, but Michael Pill suggested that both he and City Solicitor Janet Sheppard would make a lot of money over litigation involving Capital Video. Janet replied something to the effect of that Michael would make a lot more money than she would. That’s when people laughed.

  4. Please, call me Paddy. “Mr. O’Waggle” was my father’s name.

    I was not present at the December 14th Meeting. I had a previous engagement. However, I thought that since you posted this video up in an attempt to illustrate the attitude of Capital Video, and the tone of that meeting. It seemed to me, from viewing the illustrative video, that the attitude was not as adversarial and litigious as you indicated, and that the tone was lighthearted and humorous. I thought that because it seemed like they were joking back and forth. If this impression is mistaken, it is your fault for posting a misleading video.

    I also thought it was interesting the way Mr. Pill says something like, “my clients are not in business to get involved in costly litigation,” near the beginning of the video. That makes it sound like his clients are not in business to get involved in costly litigation. That, in conjunction with the lighthearted joking around, makes it sound like your impression is wrong.

    They’re saying that they want to satisfy everyone in the community without controversy or litigation here, in this very video. I think that’s a quote from this video.

  5. I was there. The point being made by Mr. Pill was that neither the city nor Cap Video would really be happy in the event of litigation, just the lawyers. Why do you think you can get away with misconstruing what happened in public? How does that help your cause?

  6. You’re entitled to your interpretation of the video. Dr. Pill’s body language and tone of voice seemed plenty combative to me. A representative of Capital Video was similarly combative at a public meeting in October.

  7. Actually, there is an important point here. Capital Video appears to have a policy of intimidating and exhausting citizen and municipal opposition through dragged-out legal action, or the threat of such action. This is a separate issue from the merits of their position, of which there is often little.

    In Michael Pill’s first statement to the Northampton City Council (PDF), he wrote, “If these zoning amendments are adopted, they could precipitate litigation that could cost each side more than $100,000.00. Where will the City of Northampton get that money? How many school teachers, fire fighters, or police officers will have to be laid off?”

    Dr. Pill’s threats and dire predictions proved empty in that instance, of course, and Capital Video appears to have accepted the November zoning ordinances as legal.

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