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By MARTY FINLEY
ELIZABETHTOWN – Several residents representing Howard Street and Westside Baptist Church appeared Monday at City Hall in support of Karen Killensworth, who spoke out against the opening of Adam & Eve, a retail lingerie and adult novelty shop, set to open on North Dixie Avenue.
However, City Council told the group that the city could not, under the Constitution, bar the business because it is not categorized as a sexually oriented business under the city’s ordinance.
Killensworth spoke on behalf of the group and presented a petition to the council with more than 30 names, vowing to get more names if they were needed.
However, Mayor David Willmoth said the issue had nothing to do with signatures, but was centered on the fact that the city was not authorized to disallow the business’ opening or deny it a business permit.
City Attorney D. Dee Shaw told the group that the city had studied the situation carefully, even visiting the store in Louisville, and looked at all their legal rights, but could do nothing because the floor plans provided by the company were not in violation of the ordinance, though Shaw added that they could not properly rule on the company’s adherence to the ordinance until the store is established and the city inspects it.
Under the city’s ordinance, a business cannot have more than 10 percent of its inventory designated as sexually oriented items, cannot have more than 15 percent of its floor space dedicated to sexually explicit items and cannot have more than 160 square feet of display area for sexually explicit items.
The sign or signs used by the business cannot advertise sexually explicit items, either.
The ordinance also has a stipulation for entertainment within the store, stating that any entertainment, either live or on film or tape, can be characterized as sexually oriented no more than 10 percent of the time.
The store has no live entertainment, Shaw said, and the other requirements of the ordinance appear to be met.
Shaw told the audience the city would work with its various offices to make sure the store was inspected and kept in line with the ordinance. Councilman Tim Walker said if the store breaks the ordinance, the city will tell them to move to a different area of the city, which Shaw said would be the industrial park. However, the city cannot outright ban Adam & Eve even if it does break the ordinance, she said.
“You cannot completely rid these businesses from your city,” Shaw said.
Killensworth asked council members if they would want to live near Adam & Eve, adding that it is to open at the only entrance to Howard Street and people must pass it every day.
“I don’t think anybody on this council would want this in their neighborhood,” Killensworth said.
Killensworth also addressed the comment that the store is similar to Victoria’s Secret, pointing out that Victoria’s Secret did not sell sexual toys or DVDs. She said it also would hurt the park, since the business lies close to both entrances into Freeman Lake, and would reduce the value of properties in the neighborhood.
“I’m sorry, when you start bringing stuff like this into a neighborhood, you destroy that neighborhood,” she said.
J.T. Kirkpatrick, pastor of the nearby Westside Baptist Church, spoke as well, and said he was worried less about his church and more about the children who gather at the bus stop near the store. He said it would leave the children questioning what the store was.
He also addressed the ordinance itself. He said he appreciated the city’s hard work in interpreting the ordinance, but felt the ordinance itself fell short and should be re-evaluated.
Shaw said the council would not mind re-evaluating it, but that the ordinance was based on a national model implemented by cities throughout the country, adding that Elizabethtown’s ordinance is a stricter version than many cities have.
She also said the city had a more stringent policy years earlier, banning stores like Adam & Eve, but that practice is now illegal.
The council reiterated that it would police the store efficiently. Councilman Tony Bishop said the inspections would be similar to how the city inspects restaurants that serve alcohol.
Walker also added that the city would address any complaints against the store as soon as it could.
Killensworth said she planned to talk to the business directly, and that the neighborhood planned to let the business know it is not welcome.
“It is the intention of our neighborhood and churches to make them as uncomfortable as possible in selling their wares,” she said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762