Blumenthal files brief against sex-themed shop

John O'Brien Mar. 22, 2007, 2:58pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - After stating more than a month ago that his office would not participate in the Town of Berlin's lawsuit against a sexually oriented business, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Monday in federal court filed a friend of the court brief in support of the town.

Blumenthal says the court should uphold the rights of municipalities to regulate sexually oriented businesses within their borders. Last month, he appeared in Berlin to speak against Very Intimate Pleasures, though a report in the Hartford Courant said Blumenthal said he would not directly litigate against the business.

The brief can be found here.

"Berlin is the battleground -- a test case for town authority statewide -- to regulate such businesses within their borders," he said.

"In every town and every fight involving these businesses, the goal is the same -- to prtect citizens from the adverse secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses, including increased crime, lowered property values and a deterioration of the neighborhood."

The town has filed two lawsuits against Very Intimate Pleasures, or VIP, from opening a store on the Berlin Turnpike.

In November, the town's zoning board rejected VIP's plan to open a store and, more recently, town officials issued a cease-and-desist order against it after a VIP sign was placed outside the building into which it planned to locate.

VIP already has three stores in Connecticut and sells sexually oriented products like oils, lotions, movies, magazines and lingerie.

The town has hired the New Haven firm Wiggin and Dana to represent it in the two suits it filed. VIP filed its own lawsuit in federal court arguing that because it is within 250 feet of a residential area it can not obtain the permit required by the zoning board, and that its Constitutional rights are being trampled by the town's laws.

Blumenthal argues that:

-The First Amendment does not prohibit towns from regulating sexually oriented businesses;

-Sexually oriented businesses cause significant negative secondary effects;

-And towns across the state have enacted ordinances similar to Berlin's in an effort to control the secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses.

Berlin Mayor Adam Salina is happy to have the support of Blumenthal.

"The residents of Berlin greatly appreciate the assistance of the Attorney General in this vitally important fight to maintain the quality of life in our town," he said. "Berlin will continue its fight, in partnership with the Attorney General."

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