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December 16. 2012 10:04PM

Adult business definition set to be refined, clarified in Windham

WINDHAM - Planning Board officials agreed at its Dec. 12 meeting to refine its zoning ordiance to clarify the definition of an adult-themed business and where they may be located. Officials hope to have the new, specific language ready to be played on the town's warrant in time for the 2013 Town Meeting.

The board unanimously agreed the wording on the current ordinance needs to be amended to differentiate between "retail" and "sexually-oriented" businesses, such as adult video stores.

Vice Chairman Ruth Ellen Post said the clarification is necessary to address existing confusion over what's allowed and what isn't in various districts.

Any changes to the town's existing zoning ordinance need to be approved at Town Meeting.

Board members unanimously agreed to move forward with the changes with little discussion last week, though the board had addressed the issue in further detail earlier this month, when town officials reviewed Windham's existing zoning ordinances.

During the Dec. 5 meeting, Community Development Director Laura Scott said she'd consulted with town attorney Bernard Campbell on the matter. Campbell indicated that the town ordinance should specify that adult-oriented businesses "may not be located within 1,500 feet of any such existing use."

Community Planner Elizabeth Wood said the main concern was that "unintended uses" might be allowed in the future based on the ordinance's current wording. According to Scott, adult-themed businesses are only permitted in the town's commercial "A" zone, which is located on the southern section of Route 28, near the Salem town line.

The only adult business operating in that zone at 53 Rockingham Road, XXXposed, advertises itself as a "fetish friendly" store, offering adult videos, DVDs, novelties and lingerie.

According to the company's website, the store also hosts occasional pole-dancing classes and has an area available for private functions, such as bachelor parties.

XXXposed has raised the ire of many locals over the years.

In 2008, some passersby complained about the store's racy window displays, which were determined to be in compliance with zoning codes.

Prior to that, the store's sign, which depicted a curvy female form, complied with regulations but was deemed too close to the roadway by the Planning Department and subsequently moved.

The amended zoning language will appear on Windham's 2013 warrant. Further discussion on zoning issues will take place during the next Planning Board meeting, on Wed., Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at Windham Town Hall.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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