MOUNT VERNON — According to some city officials, a new adult-oriented shop will probably not be opening on Public Square — or anywhere else in the city.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis did not hear about the shop — reportedly to be called the “The Girlie-Spot” — until he came to work on June 7.
“When I came in Monday morning, Dave Glass told me there had been this store that had gone in on the north side of the square and they were going to sell, I guess you call it adult paraphernalia,” he said. “So I do know that they are not open yet.
“The Central Business District runs from Chestnut Street down and across the square and down to Ohio Avenue. We don’t have a building code, so we try to make our zoning code work in such instances. We are in the process of looking at that. We think if [the Girlie-Spot] fits at all, it wouldn’t fit in the Central Business District.”
Mavis said that at least since he has been mayor, the city has tried to examine how the zoning code addresses adult-oriented businesses.
“But in looking at it, we were never quite satisfied with the authority and jurisdiction [the zoning code] gives us,” Mavis said. “So I think we are fortunate we haven’t had more stores like this surfacing here. And so far, we have been pretty good at rebuffing things like this. Right now they are not open and we have some concerns whether they can legally open in that spot.”
Safety-service director Dave Glass said the nature of the business first was known on Friday, June 4, when he was out of town. Glass said he gave instructions on June 5 not to let the store open because the owners did not have a conditional use permit. He talked with the store owners on June 7.
“It’s an adult-oriented business,” he said. “Obviously it’s not an adult entertainment business or a book store. Because it’s adult oriented, it fails under our zoning code, Chapter 1183. All adult-oriented businesses are required to get permission to locate through the Zoning Board of Appeals. It’s called a conditional use. That’s the step [the owners] are at now. They will have to go back and compile their information and make a submission, and we will set up a board meeting for them.”
According to Chapter 1183 of the Mount Vernon zoning code, which regulates adult entertainment businesses, the definitions of an adult entertainment business include an adult book store, adult motion picture theater, an adult drive-in motion picture theater or an adult-only entertainment establishment. The code describes under what conditions a conditional use permit is required by the city and its zoning code for this type of business, and also lists where certain types of adult-oriented businesses can be conditionally permitted.
Adult book stores, adult motion picture theaters and adult-only entertainment establishments are only permitted in the General Business District. Public Square is in the Central Business District, so none of these establishments are permitted there, even with conditional use. Adult motion picture drive-in theaters are not permitted in any district.
The full text of this chapter of the Mount Vernon zoning code can be found on the Internet at: www.conwaygreene.com/MtVernon/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&2.0.
Store owner Nesley Thomas said Tuesday there seems to be some misunderstanding of the nature of her business.
“I am working with a local attorney because I am a little confused on what City Hall needed,” she said. “I thought I had taken care of all my paperwork weeks ago. Then I was kind of blindsided to find out I needed something else the night before I opened. I believe it came out of somebody’s unclear idea of what the store was. Or is. It is a woman’s boutique. It’s about romance and making the woman feel and look good. It’s lingerie, dresses, scarves, essential oils and lotions. We do have some romantic toys for couples’ uses, but it’s not for use in my store.”
Thomas said she believes she does not fit any of the adult-oriented business categories listed in the Mount Vernon zoning code. She said the shop is a woman’s boutique and sells items such as sun dresses and other clothing suitable for everyday use.
She and her attorney will attend a Zoning Appeals Board meeting on July 2 and present their case that the store does not need a conditional use variance and is a suitable business for the Central Business District.
Thomas hopes to be able to open on July 10.