Recent court cases have inspired Milford officials to seek a ban on alcohol at any adult entertainment businesses that may open here.
The town as yet does not have adult entertainment, but it allows the use in two industrial zones. And one existing business owner, Kevin Coady of Doc's Sports Bar & Grille, has tried for several years to win permission through the courts to add adult entertainment to his location.
Several courts have affirmed the town Zoning Board of Appeals decision to block the addition of adult entertainment at Doc's. The town has a 2008 bylaw that regulates where the businesses can be located.
Adult entertainment is a protected activity, a form of expression, and cannot be banned by the town, said Gerald Moody, the town counsel. But Milford can regulate the so-called "secondary effects," including impacts on crime and traffic and property values, associated with sexually oriented businesses.
The proposed bylaw would prevent adult entertainment businesses from serving alcoholic drinks, because alcohol has been found in other cases to aggravate sexually oriented businesses' "already high ambient crime risk," according to case summaries collected by Moody and distributed to Milford Selectmen.
"Predatory criminals prefer inebriated victims and [sexually oriented businesses] that serve alcohol or that are located near liquor-serving businesses pose accordingly larger ... public safety hazards," according to an expert report in a Missouri case.
The Milford bylaw — which would go to annual Town Meeting members — would ban alcohol sale and consumption at adult buisnesses including bookstores, motion picture theatres or nightclubs.
Milford Selectmen voted 3-0 to advance the proposal to Town Meeting consideration. "All of this is being done to protect the character of the town, protect the neighborhoods," said Selectman Dino DeBartolomeis.