In today’s Gazette (“What may follow new ordinances”), Capital Video general counsel Lesley Rich claims the company enjoys “an excellent relationship with its host communities”.
If that’s the case, I wonder why Springfield residents and officials pushed back against the expansion of the Capital Video store at 486 Bridge Street. The store was established in 1990. Capital Video sought to expand the retail space and the number of viewing booths there in 2002. Newspaper reports in 2002 said,
“State Rep. Cheryl A. Rivera, D-Springfield, said yesterday that she…is calling councilors to express her opposition. She said she has received calls from constituents of Mattoon and Salem streets opposing the expansion. Rivera opposes the permit request, saying that it is an inappropriate use for a residential area…”Today’s Gazette then quotes Mr. Rich as taking a swipe at the adult-use ordinances passed by the Northampton City Council on Thursday, dismissing them as “totally illegal”. These ordinances are considerably less strict than those now in force in many other cities in Massachusetts. Northampton city officials spent months integrating the concerns of many local constituencies to make even more room for freedom of expression than the law requires. Not good enough for Mr. Rich.
The Planning Department has recommended that the special permit be turned down “due to the dense residential population.” A report prepared for the council says there are 500 residents within 500 feet of the business…
The City Council last night rejected a special permit for a company that sought to expand an adult video store at the Apremont Triangle, with councilors agreeing with many downtown residents that it would be a detriment to that area. The council voted 9-0 to “postpone action indefinitely” on the permit for the Video Expo store at 486 Bridge St…
Councilors and residents said…[e]xpansion of an adult video store, along with additional private booths for customers to view movies, would…take away from efforts to bring more professional people to the downtown and further investment, they said. “This would not be a step forward–it would be a step back…”
Carol A. Costa, president of the Armoury Quadrangle Civic Association, said the business is “not in keeping with a lovely, historic Armoury Quadrangle neighborhood…” Residents, including some from Mattoon Street and Chestnut Street apartments, were among the opponents, saying it would not contribute to a vibrant downtown.
Public sentiment in favor of adult-use zoning in Northampton is strong. NoPornNorthampton collected 1,551 petition signatures in favor (1,016 from Northampton residents). By contrast, Talk Back Northampton had received only 25 signatures on its electronic petition as of the morning of November 2.
If Mr. Rich would like to enjoy excellent community relations, he could start by accepting legal regulations as legal, and respecting the fact that, in council president Michael Bardsley’s words, putting a large porn shop next to homes “makes no sense”. Bardsley’s opinion is supported by a large number of fellow residents, the mayor, a majority of his fellow council members, and decades’ worth of evidence about adult businesses. It’s time for Capital Video to show respect for communities by their actions rather than just talking about it.