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Residents upset about Adam & Eve

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By Marty Finley

 

By MARTY FINLEY mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com

ELIZABETHTOWN – A 35-year-old retail business is planning to make a home on North Dixie Avenue in Elizabethtown for its new store, but homeowners in an adjacent neighborhood are not in a welcoming mood.

Adam & Eve, a retail shop that sells lingerie and adult novelty items, announced its upcoming opening last week when a sign bearing its name was placed on a window of a building between the two entrances to Freeman Lake Park off North Dixie. The announcement has led to some concerns from local residents, such as Karen Killensworth, who plans to speak against the business at the Elizabethtown City Council meeting tonight.

Killensworth, who lives on Howard Street, said she researched the business, which has locations in nine states, after seeing the sign and was disturbed at what she found. As a result, she has contacted neighbors, as well as the nearby Westside Baptist Church, to gather support against it. In addition, she planned to present a petition to residents.

“As a neighborhood, we don’t want this type of store,” she said.

Killensworth said the people she has talked to are concerned because their children pass through the area every day and congregate at a local bus stop.

Some also are concerned that it will hurt the property value of their homes, she said.

“You don’t want to live somewhere where you have to go by a sex store every day,” she said.

However, City Attorney D. Dee Shaw said the store falls within the parameters of the city’s ordinance concerning sexually oriented businesses.

The ordinance states that no more than 10 percent of a store’s inventory can be sexually oriented, no more than 15 percent of the floor space used by the public can be designated for sexually oriented items, and no more than 160 square feet of display area can be used for the items. If the store provides entertainment, either live or on film or videotape, then the entertainment only can be “distinguished or characterized by an emphasis on sexual activities” 10 percent of the time or less.

Shaw said the sign or signs used by the store cannot allude to any form of sexual activity.

She said that the city has been corresponding with Adam & Eve representatives, who have been cooperative with every step. The store’s floor plan and conversations with the city illustrate that the business will not be in violation of the ordinance, she said, though the city plans to measure the floor space and display area and gauge the amount of sexually oriented items sold once the store is established.

“We’ve truly tried to address this as carefully as we can,” she said.

Shaw, along with Planning Director Ed Poppe, visited the Adam & Eve store in Louisville for background on the business. Shaw said the store was similar in layout to Victoria’s Secret, adding that other stores of this nature, such as Cathy’s Little Secret, already are established in Elizabethtown.

Paul Paletti, a legal representative for Adam and Eve, said the stores are typically “upscale and elegant” with more than 10 million customers, primarily women and couples. He said the stores sell a limited amount of novelty items and DVDs, with no viewing booths or live entertainment included. The business plans to open the store in mid-October, he said.

The franchise recently opened its 28th store with 70 more franchise agreements in process, Paletti said. He said the business has been working in conjunction with the city to make sure it does not violate the ordinance, adding that the company plans to be a responsible business and has no intention of making the city or its citizens feel uncomfortable.

Even if the business is ruled a sexually oriented business, federal law prohibits the city from removing the business outright, Shaw said. Instead, they could only relegate the business to another area.

Killensworth said she hopes this first step will be enough to persuade the business to reconsider.

“If we don’t voice our concerns, no one knows we care,” she said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762