ANNAPOLIS – The Maryland Court of Appeals on Wednesday lifted a lower court’s injunction that had kept an Annapolis adult bookstore from running peepshows.
on the 1600 block of Annapolis Road from showing adult film arcades.
The high court ordered a new hearing for Annapolis Road, Ltd. (ARL), the company that owns the bookstore that challenged Anne Arundel County zoning restrictions on the location and operation of adult bookstores and adult film arcades which are more commonly known as “peep shows.”
Neither the lawyer for ARL nor the owners, Jack and Brindel Gresser could be reached for comment Wednesday.
The court did not express an opinion on the county ordinances that regulate the operation and location of adult book stores and film arcades.
The county ordinance in question involves issuance of a Class Y business license. In July 1991 the county stopped issuing the license until better qualification standards could be determined.
Later that year, the county passed Bill No. 98-91 requiring that adult film arcades have a Class Y permit to operate. It defined the arcades as “a place containing one or more display devices that, for commercial entertainment or amusement purposes, show images depicting sadomasochistic abuse, sexual conduct, or sexual excitement,” according to court records.
The law made it a misdemeanor to run such an arcade without a Class Y license.
But the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a similar case and invalidated similar ordinances adopted in Prince George’s and Harford counties calling them “unenforceable.”
The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the higher court’s finding, but affirmed the injunction by finding other violations that the Court of Appeals said are not a basis for any type of injunction.
ARL testified in 1993 that the company’s attempts to obtain the proper licenses for the operation of an adult film arcade had been “thwarted by the actions of the County and the Department of Inspections and Permits.”
ARL claimed that the “licensing and zoning schemes” of the county “leaves no existing adult business in Anne Arundel County,” according to court records.
Anne Arundel Deputy County Attorney David A. Plymyer said he thinks the court is wrong and hopes to see the peep show permanently closed. “There’s a long legal story here,” Plymyer said.
The battle between the county and Annapolis Road, Ltd. has been going on since at least 1984, according to court documents.
“Similar provisions governing the licensing of adult film arcades in Harford and Prince George’s counties were held unconstitutional by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Plymyer said.