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Board warned about zones for adult businesses

February 05, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Harpers Ferry, W.Va., man worried about the spread of adult entertainment businesses in the community said Tuesday night that county planning officials have set up zones near some schools that allow such businesses.

Zones that allow adult entertainment businesses have been set up near T.A. Lowery Elementary School, Shipley Elementary School and Jefferson High School, according to Lavarr McBride.

McBride appeared before the Jefferson County Board of Education Tuesday night and supplied board members with a map that shows the zones.

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"This clearly isn't in the best interests of the county," McBride said.

McBride said planning commission officials told him the zones they have set up for adult businesses are "the best they can do for now."

McBride said he has been told there is a greater restriction on such businesses in the county's newly proposed comprehensive plan, but he cannot find much mention of the issue in the plan.

McBride, who works for the federal judiciary and teaches at American University in Washington, D.C., studies sexual deviancy and has supplied county officials with results of studies that examine the effects adult businesses can have on communities.

McBride is particularly concerned about having such businesses near schools, which would result in the county's schoolchildren being "subjected to sex addicts and predators."

"If we don't fight this now, it will cause irreversible harm. This concerns me greatly," McBride told board of education members.

McBride urged board members to attend a Feb. 18 meeting of the planning commission, where members are expected to consider the new adult business zones.

Board members said they believe they have a regular board meeting that night, and discussed the possibility of writing a letter to the planning commission expressing their concerns.

"I agree, we don't want these businesses near our schools," School Board President Lori Stilley said.

Planning Commission President Arnold W. Dailey Jr., contacted at his home Tuesday night, said he did not want to comment in detail on the adult business zones because he did not have a copy of them with him.

Dailey said one of the zones is located near Opequon Creek in the Middleway, W.Va., area and is "almost out of sight, out of mind."

McBride had a map of the zones, which showed a large zone that stretched between T.A. Lowery and Jefferson High in the Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., area.

The one near Shipley Elementary School was across from the U.S. 340 school along Blair Road, according to the map.

McBride was part of a standing- room-only crowd that appeared before the Jefferson County Commission last year to express concerns about a rumor that a strip club was going to be located in a building along U.S. 340 near Shipley Elementary School.

Although the owner of the property said there were no plans to put a strip club in the building, a group of people in the county pushed county officials to develop regulations to heavily regulate adult businesses.

On Nov. 14, the county commissioners approved a six-month ban on any new adult businesses in the county to give the planning commission time to develop regulations for adult businesses.

Strip clubs can be located in the county's commercial and industrial zones or the mixed zone that allows commercial and residential development.

The commercial and industrial zone is located in the county's two industrial parks and some quarry property in the Millville area. The mixed zone is scattered throughout the county, county officials said.

Beyond those laws, there is not much regulation of adult entertainment businesses in what they can offer, how they can advertise or where they can be located, said Stephen R. Bockmiller, the county's chief planner.

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