Conn. Supreme Court to Decide Adult Store Case

Tod Hunter
HARTFORD, Conn. — The Connecticut Supreme Court will decide whether an adult store can open with viewing booths in North Haven, Conn. If the store is approved, it would be the first adult-oriented shop in North Haven with such booths.

Daniel Silver, representing the proposed video store, argued before the Supreme Court that the only way to market adult videos, which are not marketed in mainstream advertising, is for people to be able to watch them at stores.

"We're pretty confident, being that we won the lower court case and it was a pretty strong decision," storeowner Dennis Loring told XBIZ. "Unfortunately, with adult content you never know what the courts are going to do, but we're fairly confident that if they stick with the law we should come out pretty successful."

Silver said that the booths are customary at adult stores around the country and should be allowed as an “accessory” to the business.

Jennifer Coppola, representing the town, countered that the public, not an industry, should determine what is customary in a community.

“There was a time when houses didn’t have attached garages and a time when gas stations didn’t have mini-marts,” Coppola said. “To say the use is necessary to the business because there is no other mainstream way of marketing the videos doesn’t address custom."

The case dates back to August 2005, when the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission ruled that the video booths were not a permitted use, and that parking was not adequate for a use that included the booths.

Silver appealed the case in Superior Court, and the court sided with the store, saying that the denial was illegal and arbitrary. But the court did not order the commission to take any action, so Loring and Silver went back to court to modify the decision. New Haven Superior Court Judge Thomas J. Corradino then ruled that the commission must approve the site plan — but not until all appeals have been exhausted.

The town's appeal is now before Connecticut's higher court.

Responding to questions from two justices, Coppola claimed that Silver's statements about video booths being customary were not accurate. “He never gave a historical perspective. I don’t think the counsel can claim that since the inception of adult book stores that there have always been video booths.”

Silver responded that his statements were accurate and the booths "are a valid accessory use."

Regarding the question of parking, Silver said the store complies with the town’s zoning regulations as they were at the time of the original site plan and that it would be “totally unfair and inequitable” to send the matter back to the commission to reopen the issue of parking, because it was never addressed during the original commission hearings.

The state Supreme Court has no deadline to rule on the case.