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Adam & Eve’s Store Plans Draw Complaints

DURHAM,NC — City officials are fielding complaints about the planned move of an Adam & Eve store from the South Square area to a key intersection near the Streets of Southpoint mall.

The store, which sells sex toys and other adult-oriented goods, is slated to go into a new building at the corner of Fayetteville Road and N.C. 54.

As of last Tuesday, builders had applied for permits to fit out the interior, but no one has yet applied for a city privilege license to open the store there, City/County Planning Director Steve Medlin said.

The complaints officials are fielding are from people who want them to block the move. They contend that the store would be too visible from the intersection and too close to the American Tobacco Trail for comfort.

“Every time I go to Kroger, we’ll see the window display; every time I’m waiting at the light, we’ll see the displays,” Debra Brazzel, a United Methodist minister and mother of three, said in an e-mail to city officials. “This is not how I intended to address sex education with my children.”

Similar messages arrived from residents of the Folkstone neighborhood, which is up Fayetteville Road about a quarter mile from the site.

“At the very least, the signage and window advertisements should be kept discreet,” said Lisle Pearman, a resident who signed her e-mail “sincerely disgusted.”

But Medlin told the residents last week that there’s nothing officials can do because the site is zoned for commercial-neighborhood development.

Retail stores like Adam & Eve are a use by right in such zones, meaning officials have no discretion when it comes to rejecting planning and inspections applications, he said.

Nor does the yet-to-arrive privilege license offer any recourse. It’s strictly a tax document, not a regulatory tool, Medlin said.

Adam & Eve also doesn’t classify as the sort of “adult establishment” that’s subject to stricter regulations. That term normally covers businesses like strip clubs or massage parlors.

Medlin, in an interview, said the existing store off Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard next to the Spartacus restaurant has been low-key.

Its window display has “the typical lingerie, similar to [Victoria’s Secret] at the mall,” he said. “I certainly can appreciate the concerns that have been raised, but the current store doesn’t cross the line, and I would imagine they’d operate [its replacement] consistent with that.”

Elected officials, who were in the loop on the e-mails that went back and forth between Medlin and the residents, signaled no disagreement with the planning director.

“Would I rather it not be there? Yes,” said Mayor Bill Bell, who lives nearby and like Brazzel passes through the intersection on his way to the grocery store. “In terms of the visibility, and I’m sure that’s what the concern is, it’s a pretty prominent corner. But they’re a legitimate business. I don’t know what else we as a community can do.”

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