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.