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City to Reconsider Ban of Fortune Telling Businesses

Based on a 2010 Maryland Court of Appeals ruling, the City of Gaithersburg will lift its ban on fortune telling businesses.

City to Reconsider Ban of Fortune Telling Businesses

Fortunetellers, currently banned by the City of Gaithersburg, could be welcome to share their visions in the near future.

A county ordinance imposing a penalty for the demand or receipt of payment or gratuity in exchange for fortune telling was struck down in the  2010 Maryland Court of Appeals case Nefedro v. Montgomery County, Maryland, et al, making fortune telling businesses legal in the county.

Based on the Court of Appeals ruling, Gaithersburg's prohibition of fortune telling would be deemed unconstitutional and proposed amendments to city code will repeal the ban and amend the zoning ordaniance to address where fortune telling businesses can be located.

Mayor Sidney Katz said the amendments "make a lot of sense and we should be proceeding," but councilmembers managed to find some humor in the discussion Monday evening.

"Is there a zone where gullible people who have money to burn are most likely to reside or spend their money," Councilmember Michael Sesma asked, generating a laugh from the mayor and council. 

The city has already received inquiries from multiple people with licenses who are interested in moving their fortune telling business to Gaithersburg, City Attorney Lynn Board said.

However, the city still retains the right to deny a license.

"Since we are in the process of looking at a zoning text amendment, I think we would have the ability to at least temporarily deny a particular use until we can find a zone that's applicable," Board said.

City Planning Director Lauren Pruss said the city would like to be a part of the discussion for which zones are right for use and that it would take a month or two to bring a proposal to council.

Schlichting doesn't begin working until July 9.

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