Wayne Feiden Releases Final Draft of Adult-Use Ordinances for City Council to Vote on November 2

Wayne Feiden, Northampton’s Director of Planning and Development, has released final versions of several adult-use zoning ordinances for our city councilors to vote on tomorrow. We invite you to download the file and look it over:

Adult-Use Zoning Ordinances – Final Draft of 10/31/06 (PDF)

Some highlights:

  • Establishments with porn viewing booths (private or semi-private) must be located in Northampton’s highway business district and be at least 500 feet from all homes, houses of worship and schools

  • Adult businesses with over 1,000 square feet of adult material on display must also be located in Northampton’s highway business district and be at least 500 feet from all homes, houses of worship and schools

  • Aisles adjacent to displays of adult material count towards the 1,000 square feet threshold

  • If a business does not have adult materials as a “substantial” portion of its stock, the proposed zoning ordinance that regulates the location of large adult businesses will not apply

  • “The City of Northampton does not desire to suppress any speech or expression activities protected by the First Amendment but does want to enact a content neutral ordinance concerned with the secondary effects of adult establishments which display live nudity or provide private or semi-private booths for viewing live or recorded nudity or are large-scale adult establishments that could drain the character and economic vitality of the surrounding community, especially crime and effects on children and family life, and therefore desires reasonable regulations of the location of such adult establishments in order to provide for the protection of the image of the community, its property values, and to protect our residents from any adverse adult entertainment land uses, while providing to those who desire to patronize adult entertainment land uses such an opportunity in areas within the City which are appropriate for location of such land uses.”

  • “The City has historically valued the preservation and expansion of dense, safe, pedestrian-scale neighborhoods and development that enable residents to walk to school, services, recreation, and other activities. More specifically, such pedestrian-scale neighborhoods that contain services within 500 feet of residences, schools and houses of worship are an important means to enable children to walk to such services safely and independently. One of the great successes of Northampton is that all evidence that we have collected shows that the vast majority of trips up to 500 feet, even for relatively young children, is on foot.”

  • “Because the large-scale adult establishments greater than 1,000 square feet have the tendency to create blank, inactive voids in the street fabric due to their size and façade treatments it is important to ensure that such businesses are not located within 500’ of such walkable neighborhoods that include churches, residences or schools. These voids have a direct impact on the desirability of walking to such services, schools, or other activities and reduce the sense of safety for pedestrians. If these voids discourage walking or decrease the number of trips that are done without a car or are done by younger children on their own, Northampton would suffer a harm far worse than most communities who have not been as successful as we are at getting people to walk.”

  • “Additionally, the secondary effects of larger scale adult establishments with adult material often include impacts to adjoining businesses that may result in economic decline and declining property values which further spreads the inactive void along the street façade. This economic decline may be less serious in areas where everyone drives and is cloistered from the effects of nearby business, but in Northampton where many people walk, and we are investing large sums to increase the number of trips done on foot (and by bicycle) the impacts would be devastating. Thus in addition to ensuring these voids are not created within walking distance or 500’ from churches, schools and residences, the City has determined that larger establishments should be separated by distances of 500’ from other such establishments to prevent continuous voids within the street and pedestrian fabric.”

  • “The City has not found compelling reasons to regulate other types of adult uses, including those under 1,000 square feet which can more readily blend into the existing commercial fabric without creating large voids on the street front and thus have no effect on the safety of children or other pedestrians walking to services, schools or other residences.”

  • In summary:

    “1. It is not the City’s intent to regulate content for the purposes of regulating morality or any other direct reason.

    “2. The City is specifically allowing sales of ‘adult’ materials in display areas up to a certain size because to date we have not found sufficient adverse effects from this size of business that justifies new regulations.

    “3. The City is specifically allowing sales of ‘adult’ materials with no limits on size in certain reasonable areas of the City.

    “4. The City has found that larger concentrations of adult materials creates a magnet which can, and in many communities has, increased crime in the area, especially sex crimes and crimes against women and children. The magnet nature of these stores brings in visitors from greater distances who do not have any connection to the local community.

    “5. The City has found that larger concentrations of adult materials can and does lead to declining property values, adverse impacts on other businesses, urban blight, and a general decrease in the quality of life. Generally, there is a disinvestment in areas near adult uses, especially in smaller communities such as our own. This trend is seen in many communities, but its impacts would be especially severe in Northampton because of our emphasis on commerce at the pedestrian scale.”
NoPornNorthampton supports these adult-use ordinances, and we encourage citizens to attend the November 2 City Council meeting, 7:15pm at 212 Main Street, to voice their support. If the council passes these ordinances (this is the second reading), they will go into effect.

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