Breaking News: Neighbors Appeal Approval of Capital Video Site Plan to Massachusetts Land Court

Mike Kirby and Lu Stone, long-time residents of Summer Street, have appealed the Northampton Planning Board’s approval of Capital Video’s Site Plan. The appeal was filed with the Massachusetts Land Court on January 8, 2007. The named defendants are the members of the Planning Board and Capital Video.

Kirby and Stone live within 300 feet of Capital Video’s planned porn shop at 135 King Street. The front of the shop is plainly visible from their front porch.

The goal of the couple’s appeal is not to prevent any kind of porn shop from opening at 135 King, but for Capital Video to prepare a better Site Plan that conforms to Northampton’s Zoning Ordinance and addresses the concerns of the community.

Immediately after the Planning Board rendered its 4-3 approval of Capital Video’s plans on December 14, dissenting board member Kenneth Jodrie called Capital Video’s submission “one of the poorest I’ve seen in a long time, both in terms of the quality of the drawings and making no effort to meet the requirements of what the town has been talking about for the last three months.”

To keep costs reasonable, Kirby and Stone have filed their appeal pro se. They have not engaged a lawyer to represent them at this time, nor is NoPornNorthampton formally involved with their appeal.

On December 20, NoPornNorthampton issued an open letter to Capital Video attorney Michael Pill, inviting him to dialogue with the community about the deficiencies in Capital Video’s plans. These deficiencies include adherence to a non-qualifying “Victoria’s Secret standard” for signage, failure to demonstrate safe pedestrian
and vehicular flows in and around the site, and failure to address public
health and safety issues around the site. Other Capital Video stores, for
example, have experienced problems with hazardous trash (see Kittery). Issues that are debatable, such as whether to fence off the back of Capital Video’s parking lot from the coming rail trail, should receive input from professionals such as the Northampton police.

Despite Capital Video’s posture of openness at their Site Plan Review (Pill: “Call me anytime”) and in a previous letter to city officials, no response has been received to date. Kirby and Stone acted to stand up for the quality of their neighborhood and filed their appeal before the close of the 20-day appeal period.

It is hoped that Capital Video will now devote their energies to improve their Site Plan and “provide a comfortable environment to all” (their phrase) rather than attempt to exhaust and outspend the community with legal machinations.

The January 10 Republican reports on the appeal in “Adult store faces court challenge”.

The January 11 Gazette reports on the appeal in “Two file appeal of porn shop OK”.

In their suit filed in state land court Monday, Michael Kirby and Lucille Stone…allege that the Planning Board acted with “gross negligence” in approving the plan and that Capital Video, the Rhode Island company trying to open the porn shop, acted in bad faith by not meeting the city’s requirements… Efforts to reach Capital Video’s lawyer, Michael Pill…for comment Wednesday were unsuccessful.

8 thoughts on “Breaking News: Neighbors Appeal Approval of Capital Video Site Plan to Massachusetts Land Court

  1. Could you please clear up a little confusion here for me? You keep mentioning a rail trail behind the King St. location.Where did you hear this?How can a rail trail go behind there when the tracks that are there a live tracks with daily trains using them.I don’t understand how that can be.Care to share your sources? One more thing.You mention that the “front” of the store faces Summer St.At the present time,yes,but when Capitol opens,the actual “front” of the store will be in the rear of the building so what is the issue here? You fought for the city to put the limits,which it did,the city passed those ordinances and you still are not happy.For the life of me,I can not understand you.You make little or no sense.Fence in the parking area?Does that mean that all businesses along this so called rail trail will have to do the same for fear of people coming in off of this rail trail and possibly doing damage to their business? Make more sense here please.Your logic is anything but.

  2. Plans to extend the rail trail along King Street are well known and may be viewed here (PDF).

    At present, it appears that the Capital Video store will have entrances in front and back. My understanding from their admittedly confusing presentation is that their main exterior display will be on the side of the store that faces King Street.

    A primary purpose of a back fence, to me, would be to protect users of the rail trail, presumably including many children, from Capital Video’s customers, people who enjoy bondage material, movies like “Use Em’ Abuse Em’ & Lose Em’ #9” and “Bubble Gum Virgins”, and stories about incest.

  3. What are the customers of this store going to do to people passing by on an as-yet unbuilt bike path? Why do people passing by need to be afraid? Do people passing by in cars need to be afraid? Do people going to the auto parts store next door need to be afraid?

  4. You’ve just made a severe logical jump. Previously, you claimed the “evil” of the store came from the selling of these extreme titles. Now you’re claiming that simply by shopping there, customers not MUST BE after these titles, and also lack the restraint from carrying them out in real life against children?!? I’d like to please see your research which backs up this claim
    Also: Oh My! sells bondage material. Why aren’t you protecting children from THEM?

  5. If a fence is a concern,then why should Capitol Video pay for it.Shouldn’t the ones puttig in the rail trail also put up a fence?That seems to make more sense to me.One thing that doesn’t make sense to me is wasting more money on the rail trail in the first place.Where it is proposed is a terrible place for it.Along side live tracks is a safe place for people to ride a bike or take a walk with children??I think that idea should be scrapped.And as far as the “display” area goes,then i guess those businesses in downtown must remove their window displays that are clearly displaying scantily clothed mannequins.I’m sure if you ask them to remove them,that will go over really well.<---sarcastic remark.

  6. Once again, Capital Video’s customers include people who enjoy bondage material, movies like “Use Em’ Abuse Em’ & Lose Em’ #9” and “Bubble Gum Virgins”, and stories about incest. Adult enterprises are associated with secondary effects such as crime, and some of those effects appear to be manifesting as we speak around the Capital Video store in Springfield. There is ample basis for fear.

    Have you noticed that Capital Video has already gone back on their promises to have a mild outer display and dialogue with the community? That they have falsely claimed they have good relations with their host communities? There is no basis for the people of Northampton to trust them.

  7. Northampton’s Zoning Ordinance obligates the Planning Board to at least consider requiring Capital Video to screen or fence off the back of their parking lot. I am not aware of any similar requirement for bike trails.

    The trains proceed quite slowly through the neighborhood in question. Biking or walking beside the tracks is almost certainly safer than biking or walking on most city streets.

    There are a lot of ways to do a window display. Clearly the one for Victoria’s Secret in Tyson’s Corner, VA would violate Northampton’s signage ordinance. I can’t think of anything resembling it in today’s Northampton.

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