Psychic Businesses Might Soon Be Legal in Gaithersburg, Maryland

December 31st, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It looks like Wednesday is the day Gaithersburg, Maryland will decide whether or not they’ll be rescinding their present ban against ‘fortune-telling’.

As I posted last September, City Council agreed that as it stands, the law against psychic businesses should be lifted.

What still needs to be decided though, is where psychic businesses will be allowed to operate, as well as the definition of ‘fortune-telling’ itself.

According to Gazette.net, the Gaithersburg Planning Commission will be recommending that City Council enact an ordinance allowing psychic businesses to locate in specific commercial and light industrial zones.

I’ll be watching to see how this turns out and will let you all know as I know more.

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And of course …. HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!!!! It’s been a great year. Let’s make 2013 even better!!

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U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Hears Chesterfield County 'Fortune-Telling' Case

December 10th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Last Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case of Patricia Moore-King, a psychic reader from Chesterfield County, Virginia.

As I wrote about last year, King challenged the ‘fortune-telling’ statute in Chesterfield County after being denied a business license back in 2009.

She argued that her work constitutes free speech according to the US Constitution, and that the zoning laws and onerous license procedures necessary for her to obtain a business license inhibit her freedom of expression and discriminate against her based on her beliefs, viewpoint, and content of expression.

In October of last year, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr ruled against King’s argument claiming that her form of counseling was inherently deceptive and therefore not protected by the Constitution.

King appealed the decision, and it was this appeal that was heard by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.

Though King’s lawyer, Roman P. Storzer argued that his client’s freedom of speech and religion were at issue, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III commented that he thought the case was more a question of licensing and zoning regulations.

Also at issue was whether or not King’s belief in a ‘new age spirituality’ is actually a protected religious practice or simply a chosen life style or philosophy.

It might take several weeks or even months before a final ruling on the case is made.

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Gaithersburg City Council Moves Forward on Repeal of Fortune-Telling Ban

September 30th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

#11 - Justice from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

In June, Gaithersburg, Maryland City Council proposed amendments to the city code that would repeal the ban on fortune-telling businesses.

They did this in order to act in accordance with the Maryland Court of Appeals decision of 2010, which struck down a similar ban in Montgomery County for being unconstitutional.

While City Council agreed that the ban needed to be rescinded, they wanted to restrict fortune-telling to specific areas of the city and asked the Planning Commission to draft new ordinances.

Last week, Council was presented with the proposed zoning text amendments.

Per the proposal, fortune-telling businesses would only be permitted ‘in the I-1 Light Industrial zone, and allowed expressly as a special exception in the C-2 General Commercial, CBD Central Business District, CD Corridor Development, and MXD Mixed Use Development zones.’

Fortune-telling would be prohibited as a home occupation.

Though Council authorized city staff to move forward with both establishing the new zoning regulations and repealing the fortune-telling prohibition, they requested a redraft of the actual definition of fortune-telling before official changes are made.

As it stands, the draft presented to Council defines ‘fortune-telling’ as:

‘Any attempt to tell fortunes or predict the future (for pay or voluntary contributions) by means of occult or psychic powers, faculties, or forces; necromancy, palmistry, psychology, psychic psychometry, spirits, mediumship, seership, prophesy, cards, talismans, sorcery, charms, potions, magnetism, tea leaves, magic, numerology, mechanical devices, handwriting analyses, phrenology, character readings, or any other similar means. Fortune telling shall not be considered a home occupation, church, or other place of worship.’

Some Council members were disturbed by the inclusion of both psychology and churches in the definition and would like those words removed. Planning staff will follow up on Council recommendations and present the changes within the next few months.

Interestingly, the Commission’s report noted that fortune-telling businesses have a negative stigma, and have historically fallen into the category of ‘urban decline use’.

Other businesses in that category include pawn shops, tattoo parlors, check cashing, and sexually oriented establishments.

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Cook County Reconsiders Psychic Business Zoning Approval

September 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Last month Cook County, Illinois zoning commissioners approved a zoning change that would have allowed a ‘tarot card psychic business’ to open in Maine Township. The Maine Township Zoning Board also approved.

Last week however, Cook County commissioners deferred the final decision on the question until next month.

Apparently, Commissioner Peter Silvestri, who represents the district in which the psychic business is located, received a petition signed by 50 people opposing the shop.

According to Journal On-line, the signatories gave no legal basis for their opposition. They simply don’t want a psychic business in the neighbourhood.

Until last month, the business had been operating without a license, but no other criminal complaints had been lodged against it.

The issue will likely be raised again at the county board’s next meeting on October 2nd.

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Psychic Business Zoning in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

September 4th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Though the fortune-telling ban in New Smyrna Beach, Florida has been struck down, city commissioners decided last week to limit where such businesses will be allowed to locate.

The new rules will allow psychic businesses to set up shop in the highway service business district and the planned shopping center zoning areas.

They will not, however, be welcome in the beachside commercial hub.

Even in the areas where psychic businesses will be allowed, licenses will be granted only on a case-by-case basis.

According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, some business owners and councilors are concerned about the demographic that might be attracted to psychic readers, and that such businesses are not ‘family friendly.’

In my experience, people from all walks of life visit psychics and Tarot readers, so I’m a little surprised that the City is concerned about the clients a psychic business might attract.

I’m pleased though that they’ve at least repealed the ban and hope that all goes well. Other cities in the region have not had the courage to go even that far.

Psychic businesses are still illegal in the cities of Daytona Beach Shores, DeBary, Deltona, South Daytona, Oak Hill Beach, Ormond Beach, and Volusia County.

They are legal but regulated in Edgewater and DeLand.

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Another Fortune-Telling Ban Repealed

August 13th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Another fortune-telling ban has been struck from the municipal law books, this time in York, Nebraska.

Last week, York City Council did some house-cleaning, and according to yorknewstimes.com, they scrapped not only the fortune-telling ban that had been in place since the fifties, but also restrictions on cursing in dance halls, and bowling on Sunday mornings.

Good work York!!

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Psychic Business Lawsuit Settled in Hattiesburg, MS

August 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Last August, psychic business owners Tommy and Marie Costello sued the City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi over the closure of their business – Psychic Marie.

Hattiesburg had shut their business down based on a law from 1929 banning fortune-telling within city limits.

The Costellos argued that the ban was an unconstitutional restraint on their right to free speech and due process. In their lawsuit, they asked for its repeal, and for unspecified damages.

The city of course disagreed, and responded that the ban was a legitimate regulation meant to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Hattiesburg.

In November, U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett ruled in favour of the Costellos and issued a preliminary injunction against the fortune-telling ordinance. In early December, Hattiesburg repealed the law.

Now finally, the story is almost coming to a close for the Costellos. Just last week, the City of Hattiesburg settled the lawsuit and agreed to pay $7,500 in damages.

Given that their business was shut down for almost a year, it’s not a lot of money, but it’s still quite a victory.

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Fortune-Telling Ban in Alexandria, LA Struck Down Again

July 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

So in a follow-up to a follow-up I did a couple of weeks ago, the ban on fortune-telling in the City of Alexandria, Louisiana has definitely been struck down.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Dee Drell concurred with the earlier opinion of U.S. Magistrate James D. Kirk that Alexandria’s ban was an unconstitutional violation of the right of free speech.

According to nola.com and the Associated Press, Drell commented in his ruling that,

“We also note with interest that the ‘art’ of fortune telling proliferates in front of St Louis Cathedral, in the City of New Orleans, apparently without incident.”

I think that Alexandria will find that they’re safe too.

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US Magistrate Rules Alexandria, Louisiana Fortune-Telling Ban Unconstitutional

July 2nd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Following up on a story from last September … it looks like Rachel Adams of Alexandria, Louisiana may have won her battle against that city and its fortune-telling ban.

A little over a week ago, US Magistrate Judge James D. Kirk ruled that Alexandria’s law against fortune-telling was unconstitutional in that it infringed on the First Amendment right of free speech.

The law itself not only prohibited psychic or Tarot readings for pay, it stated that it was unlawful …

“… for any person to engage in the business or practice of palmistry, card reading, astrology, fortunetelling, phrenology, mediums or activities of a similar nature within the city, regardless of whether a fee is charged directly or indirectly, or whether the services are rendered without a charge.”

The City had argued that ‘fortune-telling’ constituted commercial speech and could thus be regulated.

As reported by The Town Talk, Judge Kirk disagreed and ruled that the law should be struck down.

“To apply the ordinance literally would outlaw every ‘amateur psychiatrist, parlor sage and barstool philosopher’ in Alexandria who dares to suggest to another what the future may hold.”

In his 10-page recommendation, Kirk went on to make some more pretty powerful points,

“This attempt at ‘alchemy’ by the city to turn content-based speech into commercial speech just doesn’t shine … “

“My use of allegory and analogy is intended to demonstrate why we cannot afford to allow government to squelch free thought and speech without a compelling interest, and why even a fortuneteller’s speech must be protected …”

“For a government to believe that it knows all that is true and real, no matter how obvious it thinks it is, is arrogance, pure and simple. Our Constitution protects us from such government oppression.”

The City has two weeks to respond with objections.

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Gaithersburg, Maryland Considering Repeal of Psychic Business Ban

June 25th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

It might soon be legal to open a psychic business in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Last week, the Gaithersburg City Council proposed amendments to the city code that will repeal the present ban on fortune-telling businesses.

They also introduced changes to the city’s zoning laws to establish where such businesses may be located.

Until the zoning amendments are finalized, however, Gaithersburg will retain the right to deny applications for psychic business licenses.

According to the Gaithersburg Patch, Council expects a zoning proposal to be brought before them within the next few months.

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