ROCKLAND, Maine — Several people turned out Wednesday night to demand the City Council take quick action to prevent an adult novelty store from coming into the community.
“I don’t want trash like this in my neighborhood,” said resident Jerry Sharp of Fogg Street.
He said there are people in Rockland who have morals and that this was not the type of business that should be allowed in the city.
“What’s next, a house of ill repute?” Sharp asked.
Joann Kelly of Willow Street said that an adult type store would attract undesirable people to the neighborhood.
“Do whatever is necessary to prevent this from happening,” she said.
The City Council scheduled the Wednesday night discussion on possible regulations of adult novelty stores because of the effort of Herman “Rusty” Hoffman to open a store that would sell pipes, adult sex toys, pornography and swords.
Councilors agreed Wednesday night to have the city attorney and staff come up with proposed zoning regulations that would restrict such businesses. Suggestions from councilors and the attorney were that there could be requirements that such shops must be 500 feet from homes, churches and schools and be prohibited in residential zones or in zones adjacent to residences.
City attorney Kevin Beal warned that a complete ban or a moratorium could face legal challenges that might be difficult to defend.
Councilor Frank Isganitis suggested the city look at licensing all businesses and then impose regulations that way. Councilor Eric Hebert said that licensing all businesses went too far.
“We don’t need to burn a field of wheat to get rid of one weed,” Hebert said.
Hoffman was arrested in July for trafficking in bath salts, a product he had at his store in Waldoboro that has since closed.
Hoffman had eyed two spots in Rockland: one at the intersection of Union and Willow streets and the other on Camden Street next to the Chinese restaurant near the intersection of Waldo Avenue.
The owners of the Union Street property said Wednesday, however, they would not rent to Hoffman.
“My husband and I would like to assure everybody that our moral values feel strongly about not allowing a business such as this to enter into our community. With that being said, we absolutely will not be renting now or in the future to Mr. Hoffman,” said Laurie and Josh Boyer in an email sent Wednesday to the code officer.
Hoffman said Monday that he has not decided on a location and is looking at places throughout the midcoast. Hoffman also looked at opening a store in Damariscotta, where voters approved a moratorium in September to give town officials six months to come up with regulations.
Hoffman said Monday he does not understand why communities would want to impose moratoriums or regulate the business. He said his business is simply a gift shop.