Sex as business may be banned in Sidney

Posted Feb. 04, 2011, at 5:43 a.m.

SIDNEY, Maine — Strip clubs. Adult bookstores. Topless coffee shops.

Area officials have been grappling with how to regulate these businesses, and Sidney could be the next town to take on that challenge.

A temporary ban on sex-oriented businesses in Sidney would give the town time to develop an ordinance to regulate them.

Initiated by a group of residents — and signed by selectmen on Monday — the proposed six-month moratorium will go to a vote at the town meeting on March 19.

The Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the ban at the Town Office on Monday night.

After a topless coffee shop opened in Vassalboro in 2009, that town and neighboring China and Winslow worked quickly to develop rules regulating adult entertainment.

Last fall, Madison tightened its rules to prohibit nudity in commercial businesses after a strip club tried to open in town. On Tuesday, Waterville councilors gave preliminary approval to ban adult businesses, including bookstores and massage parlors, in certain areas of the city.

No business proposal triggered the discussion in Sidney, said Simone Kramer, who’s among the group of residents that brought the issue to the Planning Board late last year. The point, she said, is to plan ahead.

“The town of Sidney is growing. Waterville’s closing in on us. Augusta’s closing in on us,” Kramer said. “We don’t want to run into the problems that Vassalboro has run into.”

Kramer said she is not in favor or opposed to sex-oriented businesses. She just wants to see some regulations in place. Whether the rules deal only with strip clubs or include adult bookstores, she said, should be up to residents.

Kramer said the group didn’t believe there was enough time to write an ordinance before the town meeting in March, so they asked for a moratorium in the mean time.

Selectmen on Monday initiated the process of enacting the temporary ban. Before residents vote on the moratorium at the town meeting, they can give their opinions at Monday’s 7 p.m. public hearing.

Jeff Frost, chairman of the select board, said he thinks it’s a good idea for Sidney to have an ordinance in place.

“It’s primarily a residential community at this point, but unless you’re proactive, if somebody goes to the planning board, you don’t have much to stand on,” he said.

Copyright (c) 2011, Morning Sentinel, Waterville, Maine

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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