Lovecraft Zoning Case Ends after Bookstore Reduces Adult Inventory
By: Keith Witchka,
The Lovecraft, located at 10119 Washington Boulevard North has evaded zoning laws for adult businesses by cutting back on their stock of non-Adult materials, Howard County officials said.
During an inventory visit last week, zoning officials found that the Lovecraft, no longer fits into the county’s definition of an adult bookstore because less than 20 percent of its “viewable items” are of an adult nature.
Officials checked the items which included books, videos, magazines, greeting cards and post cards.
The Lovecraft is described by other business owners as a papered-over windows, closed-door viewing booths and big sign, “You must be 18 to enter,” on the front door. The Lovecraft sits in a small shopping center where a pawn shop is the other major tenant.
Steve Rolls, one of two regulation inspectors who was assigned to check the inventory in the Lovecraft, told JRL “Adult businesses in Howard County are subject to a number of restrictions. They must be at least 300 feet from any school, church, library, park or residential area and at least 1,000 feet from any other adult business.”
Since the Lovecraft added enough non-Adult inventory, such as books and postcards, to its stock, Rolls stated, “none of those restrictions apply at this point.” JRL called the Lovecraft yesterday and spoke with a clerk who stated the store had no comment.
A zoning complaint case was opened against the Lovecraft back in August 2008 for alleged violations of one of the zoning restrictions, stated Rolls. The case had been ongoing since then but was officially closed Tuesday March 2, 2010 after the most recent inventory inspection by Steve Rolls.
At that time, Rolls and the other zoning inspector counted 1,399 DVD’s, one VHS tape and 320 magazines of what they describe as adult in nature. They counted 1,601 DVD’s, 354 VHS tapes, 3,278 books, 93 postcards and 1,140 greeting cards that were not of adult an adult nature.
Howard County Councilwoman Jennifer Terrasa (Rep. of District 3) of Kings Contrivance said she is concerned about the zoning issue but thinks Route 1 revitalization is a more effective way to discourage adult businesses in the area of attempting to set up shop.
Terrasa who reprsents Save and parts of Laurel said “It’s hard to regulate speech through zoning.” “I think the better way to deal with it is to make other improvements in the area.”
But North Laurel resident Donna Thewes said she worries that Lovecraft’s presence will deter new development of what she calls decent businesses.
Thewes, who has lived in North Laurel for more than 22 years, told the press that she disapproves of businesses like the Lovecraft even though she does not disagree with pornography per se.
“That’s personal choice, and that’s something I believe in,” Thewes said. “I don’t believe this business is of benefit to the community.”