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December 20. 2012 1:22PM

Town planners plot ways to limit options for adult businesses in Windham

WINDHAM – As town officials work to refine Windham’s zoning ordinance in time for the 2013 Town Meeting, many agreed that the specific language is needed in order to ensure adult-themed businesses have a limited presence in town.

During the Dec. 12 Planning Board 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.

By law, any changes to the town’s existing zoning ordinance need to be approved at Town Meeting.

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. Board members unanimously agreed to move forward with the changes with little discussion, 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, who advised her 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.

Right now there’s one adult video store operating in that zone, XXXposed, located at 53 Rockingham Road. The business advertises itself as a “fetish friendly” store, offering adult videos and 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 passers-by complained about the store’s racy window displays, though it was ultimately determined the store was in compliance with local codes.

Several months before that, the store’s provocative sign, which depicts a curvy female form, was determined to be compliant with local zoning regulations. Still, the Planning Department later asked the store owner to move the sign since it was located too close to the roadway.

The amended zoning language will appear Windham’s 2013 warrant. Further discussion on zoning issues was scheduled to take place at Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 19.


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