City Council Meeting: Draft Ordinances Circulated

NoPornNorthampton presented 121 new petition signatures at the August 17 Northampton City Council meeting. NPN co-founder Adam Cohen urged city officials to help the owners of 135 King Street find a better tenant than a Capital Video porn shop. To date, NPN’s petition has been signed by 687 Northampton residents and 284 non-residents, or 971 people in all.

At the council meeting, NPN was pleased to see the city circulate two draft ordinances for public comment. Here they are as PDF files:

General Sign Regulations and Approval Criteria – Draft Ordinance
“Signs may not include text, graphics or pictures defined as obscene in MGL Chpt. 272 Sec. 31 if taken as a whole it…lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value…. Nor may signs depict or describe sexual conduct or sexual excitement…. Windows may only be blocked or shaded by approval of the Planning Board through site plan approval.”

Adult Establishments Which Display Live or Private Booth Nudity – Draft Ordinance
These uses are only permitted in the Highway Business zones of Northampton, and “shall be allowed on sites no portion of which is less than 500 feet from any church/house of worship, day care center, park, playground, school, residence, or other adult establishment which displays live nudity…. These adult establishments which display live nudity or provide private or semi-private booths for viewing live or recorded nudity will be allowed with a Special Permit from the Planning Board….”

We would like to see the ordinance that zones adult nudity establishments include adult theaters in its scope. Even if the possibility of an adult theater setting up in Northampton appears remote, the adult industry is extremely creative and may come up with a way to revive this format in the future. NPN is also still interested in viewing booth health regulations.

The city plans to hold three public meetings in September to discuss these ordinances (other matters may also be reviewed at these meetings). Perhaps the best one to attend will be the Ordinance Committee meeting on September 12, 6pm at the City Council Chambers at 212 Main Street (behind City Hall). No vote will be taken at this meeting, but it will be relatively informal and allow for significant public participation.

Another important date is a joint Ordinance/Planning meeting on September 28, 7pm at the City Council Chambers. This meeting allows for some public comment but is more formal. Voting on ordinances is likely to take place.

The third meeting will involve the Economic Development Housing & Land Use Committee (EDHLU). This meeting will probably take place around the middle of September or just before. If we feel this is an important meeting to attend, we’ll pin down the details and publish them on the blog.

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