By Julie Baughman, firstname.lastname@example.org
4:42 PM EST, February 18, 2013
An adult video store that owes more than $68,000 for code violations had its doors locked and black plastic covering the glass last week.
Howard Schulman, the attorney for property owner Southwest Boulevard LLC, would not confirm last week whether the store has shut down for good.
Southwest Video and Adult Boutique at 5648 Southwestern Boulevard has battled with community organizations for years and has been cited for displaying too much adult material and for improper use of video booths on the property.
"They were showing pornographic videos and that is not allowed," said Assistant County Attorney Paul Mayhew Feb. 19.
Mayhew said Southwest Video's zoning restrictions mean it can only make 15 percent of its total revenue from selling adult products.
Store representatives had recently appeared in an appeals court hearing in Annapolis Feb. 6 to appeal two separate issues.
The first of the two back-to-back hearings addressed the store's claim that the county rule requiring code citation fines to be paid before an appeal can be made is unconstitutional.
The second hearing was held to address the store's claim that a 2012 temporary injunction requiring the store to remove all video booths was unconstitutional.
"Both are infringement (on) in the first instance, their due process, and in the second instance, their free speech rights," Schulman said.
Rulings on the two Feb. 6 hearings could take up to six months, according to Mayhew.
Mayhew said he could not say whether the business' had closed.
"I really can't speculate on that," he said last week. "But the county has not shut them down."
The store has been fined a total of $68,000 as a result of numerous code violations and has argued that having to pay before it could appeal was unfair.
Mayhew said the rule that fines must be posted before an appeal can be made is not typically an issue.
"It's usually not a big deal because the fines aren't that large," he said.
"However, in this case, because the bookstore had been operating unlawfully for so long ... they either could not, or would not, agree to post that amount."
Cpl. Cathleen Batton, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police Department, said that there was no record of arrests being made at the property.
"It's not that complaints about this business were not received or were not investigated," Batton said.
"However, the police department was unable to substantiate those claims," she said.
"Our officers have to personally witness or be solicited for sexual activity," she said.
"During the course of this investigation, the detectives did not observe any criminal activity during the times that the officers were there."
This story was updated Feb. 22.