Blumenthal allowed to back Berlin in court

John O'Brien Apr. 5, 2007, 4:00pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - After filing a brief in the Town of Berlin's lawsuit against a sex-themed shop, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday discovered that he will be permitted to appear as a friend of the court.

Very Intimate Pleasures, a sexually oriented chain store that Berlin officials are fighting to keep out of the town, objected Blumenthal's request.

"The court recognizes the ramifications this single case has beyond Berlin's borders for the entire state," Blumenthal said. "The state will be at Berlin's side in court -- protecting the right of every city and town in Connecticut to protect citizens from sexually oriented businesses.

The town has filed two lawsuits against VIP in federal court, hoping to keep it 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 such as 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.

"These businesses are proliferating across our state -- adult book and video stores, massage parlors and facilities featuring live nude entertainment -- opening shop on our Main Streets and near homes," Blumenthal said.

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