Mass. Couple Settles Suit with Capital Video Store

Tod Hunter
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Two local residents, acting as their own attorneys, have reached a financial settlement with owners of a proposed adult store in their neighborhood.

Michael A. Kirby and Lucille J. Stone filed suit against Capital Video Corp. of Rhode Island and the Northampton Planning Board, maintaining that the board violated city ordinances when it approved Capital Video's application to build an adult store in their neighborhood in December.

The approval from the Planning Board came after the Northampton City Council had passed adult-use zoning restrictions in November that would have kept the proposed store from opening. The approval came despite objections by Planning Board members to the proposed window design, which featured scantily clad men and women, some of whom wore handcuffs and carried whips. Capital Video's lawyer assured the board that his client would tone down the design.

Kirby, a former city council member, said that the prospective cost of engaging a lawyer was "out of the question," so he and Stone, both retired, had the time to do their own research.

Kirby said the agreement forbids both sides from disclosing the terms, but he and Stone are satisfied with it, calling the checks they received "the modest fruit of our labor." The settlement also ended the city of Northampton's role in the suit.

Stone called the representatives of Capital Video "civil and respectful," unlike the municipal authorities, "who, we believe, were annoyed with us, dismissing us as cranky meddlers with too much time on our hands."

Stone noted that since the suit was settled, Capital Video has made improvements to the property, including planting two trees, building a decorative wall and installing a bike rack, and said that the Northampton Historic Commission recently designated the property an architecturally significant example of an early auto dealership.

"Chalk up one more first for our new neighbor," Stone said.