Towns Across Massachusetts Use Zoning to Regulate Adult Businesses

A quick search of Google reveals how numerous towns and cities across Massachusetts are using zoning to regulate adult businesses. These towns recognize the harmful “secondary effects” that adult businesses often impose on their surroundings. Here is a sample:

Fitchburg (PDF)
Section 181.6: “It is the purpose of this section to establish reasonable and uniform regulations to prevent the concentration of sexually oriented businesses within the City of Fitchburg; to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of the City of Fitchburg; and, to prevent problems of blight and deterioration which accompany and are brought about by the concentration of sexually oriented businesses.”

Chapter XIX: “It is the purpose and intent of this Chapter of the Oxford Zoning By-Law to address and mitigate the secondary effects of the Adult Uses and sexually oriented businesses referenced and defined herein. Such secondary effects have been shown to include increased crime, adverse impacts on public health, adverse impacts on the property values of residential and commercial properties, and adverse impacts on the quality of life in the Town, all of which secondary impacts are adverse to the health, safety, and general welfare of the Town of Oxford and its inhabitants.”

Dartmouth (MS Word document)
Section 11.304: Adult uses, as defined in this subsection, shall require a special permit from the Board of Appeals in accordance with the provisions of Section 38 of these Zoning By-Laws and M.G.L., Chapter 40A, Section 9, subject to the following conditions:
   A. That the proposed use be at least one thousand (1000) feet from any residential district.
   B. That the proposed use be at least five hundred (500) feet from any other adult use as defined in this section.
   C. That the proposed use as defined within the building is located at least five hundred (500) feet from any established use where minors usually assemble or congregate, including but not limited to, day care facilities, schools, churches, parks, and recreational/entertainment facilities.

Douglas (PDF)
It has been documented in numerous other towns and cities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and elsewhere in the United States that Adult Entertainment Establishments are distinguishable from other business uses and that the location of adult entertainment uses degrades the quality of life in the areas of a community where they are located. Studies have shown secondary impacts such as increased levels of crime, decreased tax base, and blight resulting from the clustering and concentration of adult entertainment uses. Late night noise and traffic also increase due to the late hours of operation of many of these establishments. This bylaw is enacted pursuant to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40A, Section 9A at Section XI. Adult Entertainment Overlay District, Subsection 11.01. Purpose and Intent. and the Massachusetts Home Rule Amendment with the purpose and intent of regulating and limiting the location of Adult Entertainment Establishments (as defined herein) so as to prevent the secondary effects associated with these establishments, and to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the Town of Douglas.

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