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Business-limiting plan withdrawn by council

April 07, 1998

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Bath Town Council has withdrawn a proposed ordinance that would limit adult-oriented businesses in the town after realizing the ordinance could be expanded to include mainstream movie theaters, bookstores and licensed massage therapists.

Censorship wasn't their intention, said Councilman David Welch.

"I think despite how well-intended it might have been ... when we as a council make a mistake, I think it's important to admit it," Welch said. "I think we boo-booed on this one."

The Bath Town Council unanimously agreed to permanently remove the ordinance from consideration.

Mayor Susan Webster said the ordinance was meant to protect the town from future adult businesses, such as massage parlors, adult bookstores and adult movie theaters.

The council wasn't aware of the constitutional issues involved, Welch said.

The ordinance could have been interpreted to include a variety of businesses, including mainstream theaters where R-rated movies are shown or merchants who sell books about massage therapy with semi-nude photographs.

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"Some business owners have businesses that don't have anything to do with porn, but (the ordinance) was vague and open to speculation," Webster said.

- Amy Wallauer

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