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Halethorpe Video Store Ordered to Shut Down Sex Booths

Judge yanks video booths with 'glory holes' at Lovecraft on Washington Boulevard in Halethorpe.

A Circuit Court judge ordered a controversial Halethorpe business to pull the plug on video booths showing adult-oriented material that county officials say violates the law and neighbors say is a nuisance in the community.

Judge Dana Levitz on April 23 granted a preliminary injunction in a case brought by Baltimore County against Lovecraft, a video store at 5648 Southwestern Boulevard, across the street from the MARC Halethorpe Station.

According to Chip Raynor, inspector with the county’s code inspection and enforcement office, Lovecraft has eight private video booths, some of which are equipped with a "glory hole" between booths to allow patrons to engage in sex acts.

Residents that Lovecraft has a reputation as a place for men to arrange sexual hookups through sites such as Craigslist and Backpage.

The court hearing was punctuated with crude terminology that would make polite company blush.

"I'll be shocked, but I'll get over it," Levitz advised both sides during the hearing.

The county previously tried to shut down Lovecraft in 2010, according to court records. The video store removed video booths for more than a year, but reportedly returned in December of 2011.

Lovecraft is located on property zoned "business light" (BL), which allows adult-oriented material under certain conditions, according to county officials.

Under codes that went into effect in July of 2010, businesses must limit the amount of floor space and sales generated by adult material to 15 percent.

Mike McAuliffe, president of the Halethorpe Improvement Association, testified that virtually 100 percent of the Lovecraft floor space and products are adult-oriented.

Baltimore attorney Howard Schulman argued that Lovecraft is in compliance with county code, contending that only 15 percent of the videos being shown at the store are adult-oriented.

A reading of the list of titles showed that the 85 percent of the videos are presidential speeches that are in the public domain.

Levitz was incredulous that a patron would sit in a video booth and pay 25 cents to watch a speech of President Obama discuss economic policy in two- or three-minute increments.

In his preliminary order, Levitz ordered that the video booths be shut off by 5 p.m. and either removed from the premises or blocked from the public.

"The order will require all video booths to be closed to the public to the county's satisfaction," said county attorney Paul Mayhew.

Although an appeal of the order is likely, McAuliffe called the decision a victory.

"I feel very good about it," he said. "I'd rather see the whole business just move, because as long as they're there we have to be vigilant. They're always tempting the law and they always will."

A hearing for a permenent injunction will be scheduled within a few months, according to Mayhew.

Halethorpe Improvement Association April 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM
This store has no regard for the neighborhood and has gone out of control in the past when unabated. Leniency and second chances have proven ineffective. The County's recent actions to keep them within the law is necessary. The County has listed for them the many locations within the County that they may operate legally with porno viewing booths and 100% porno sales, but to no avail does this business abide. Fighting this issue on religious or moral grounds is not our specified intention
john doe April 26, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Why don't you all actually find a girl/guy and not watch it on tv and pleasure yourselves to it. You all are pathetic. Its really weird to know that you stick your penis in a fake hole just saying.
Terry April 27, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Sandy, all I can say is maybe through your prayers the video store will be struck by lightning! However, as a woman, I could care less. You could pray for john doe and roman. Their comments I had to read twice, but there valid. Neighbors living near the video store were on Fox News the other night and do not have a problem with it being there. One woman said she grew up near it and didn't bother her. Sandy should watch her, so she doesn't drill holes in fences She might want to turn the video store into a small roadside church. Mike (HIA) might want to tear it down for MARC train parking. How does he know so much about the inside of the store unless he visited it? The video store brings in taxes and is on SW Blvd, not very residential. They have been in business longer then some of the businesses in the East drive shopping district. Mike should worry more about finding someone to replace Quirk. He does nothing for 21227 or 21229. Did you ever wonder where all our taxes go--THINK--21228. We need our own district. Moxley slowly took our tax dollars and built up 21228, 16 years quietly letting our two zip codes rot. Hand picked a new guy to run this district and here we go again, no help no respect. And Mike your becoming a legend in your own mind, in the paper and on TV.
Arbutus Town Crier April 29, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I think we need to focus on crime, Drug trafficking, and other priority's then peoples morals, Work from the bottom up and do the right thing. Terry you made your point VERY TRUE! pet projects and building up 21228 seems to be an issue. I don't know where these Government officials live But I have an idea? Hear that sucking sound? that's our taxes going to work SOMEWHERE ELSE then 21227 & 21229 Arbutus a area divided by a zip code.
jane doe January 18, 2013 at 05:54 AM
The amount of incorrect grammar is shocking. Why protest against something if you can't state it properly, using proper grammar.

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