Legal Fortune-Telling Raises Protest in Harford County, Maryland

March 7th, 2011 § 0 comments

Maryland with Harford County highlighted

Harford County, Maryland

A bill to repeal Harford County, Maryland’s 31-year old ban on fortune-telling has been delayed due to protests by some residents who want to keep psychic businesses illegal.

Last year, Maryland’s High Court ruled that bans on fortune-telling businesses were unconstitutional.

Since they can’t be shut down outright, Harford County councilman, Dion Guthrie, wants to at least control where they’re allowed to operate.

To that end, he sponsored a bill that would overturn the old ban, but restrict such establishments to the B-2 and B-3 business zoning districts.

These businesses would have to be located at least 1,000 feet from a school, another similar business or a place of worship, and would need special permission from the Board of Appeals.

He’s also considering setting age restrictions on those who can visit fortune-tellers, and maybe restricting such businesses, alongside adult bookstores, exclusively to the B-3 zone.

For some residents though, that’s not enough. They don’t want fortune-telling anywhere in the county, regardless of what the State High Court determined.

According to The Aegis, in his presentation to Council, Allan Gorman, a senior pastor at Harford Community Church, quoted bible verses in opposition to mediumship and fortune-telling.

‘When you, as the authorities of the land, allow for a spiritual opening for dark forces to come into our community, they will come,’ he said. ‘The effects will be permanent until another authority steps in and says no to that.’

John Mallamo, of Bel Air was concerned that there was no qualifications for readers, or requirement that they prove their accuracy.

And James Zachary, an elder with Breath of God Christian Fellowship felt the Maryland court decision was wrong and that fortune-telling is a bad legacy for the Council to leave behind.

Though no one seemed to come out in support of fortune-telling, not everyone felt it was a danger to the community.

Pete Gutwald, director of the county’s planning and zoning department, described it as a personal service that could be practiced in a residential zone.

And Nancy Giorno, the county’s deputy attorney, felt that unlike the case with adult bookstores, there are no proven secondary effects associated with fortune-telling businesses.

The issue remains unresolved.

Council decided to delay their decision and put the question off for another time.

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