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Berlin Zoning Appeals Rejects VIP Store

Berlin, Connecticut- An adult store chain will not be setting up shop on the Berlin Turnpike anytime soon after an appeal is voted down.

The room was filled beyond capacity as people were standing in the back and sitting on the floor. They were there to oppose the adult superstore “Very Intimate Pleasures”, or VIP, which wants to put in a store on the Berlin Turnpike.

“This is like the devil is coming to town, this is it,” says Frank Bargielski, Berlin.

Frank Bargielski lives right behind the building where V.I.P. plans to put in its new adult super store and has been attending the meetings since day one.

“It’s not that kind of business that should be there, mainly because of the kids and families down there,” says Bargielski.

“I have a young child. This is a very residential neighborhood, there are 19 homes within 250 feet of this property,” says Laura Michaud, Berlin.

Laura Michaud lives next to the proposed sight, and has signed a petition to stop it.

Michaud says,”Oh my God. Is my child going to be safe playing outside? And I now own the least desirable residential piece of property in Berlin, if not all of Connecticut.”

“We keep all our stores low profile,” says Gary Porter, VIP.

Gary Porter manages the 3 VIP stores in Connecticut. Earlier this month they went before the Planning and Zoning Board to appeal. He says VIP wouldn’t have bought the building if they hadn’t done their homework.

“It basically comes down to the laws they have on the books, what constitutes adult materials, and most of it is not adult materials,” says Porter.

Nearly every adult store Porter has opened has been protested. He says progress is slow, but steady.

Porter says,”Whatever direction they do take, it will be fair and we are confident that we will be moving forward.”

The Zoning Board has denied the appeal. VIP has a lawyer and they say the next step is a lawsuit.

Back story, 10/26/2006: BERLIN – After recently being denied for a zoning change, representatives from Very Intimate Pleasures will now take its case to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Less than two months ago, VIP’s zone change request was denied by Hellyn Riggins, director of planning and zoning, for its proposed store at 717 Berlin Turnpike due to an incomplete application.

Representatives from VIP had initially planned on appealing Riggins’ first denial, but later dropped its appeal even after submitting planning and zoning with a more revised application.

Again, their application was denied, this time because of a failure to comply with local zoning requirements under the town’s sexually oriented business ordinance. VIP must have the zoning certificate before it is permitted to open its store.

The S.O.B. ordinance states “no sexually oriented business shall be permitted on a site that is less than 1,000 feet from any site containing a church, school, public building, public park or recreation area,” or “on a site that is less than 250 feet from any residentially zoned land as defined in the town zoning regulations.”

Representatives from VIP are scheduled to meet with the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

VIP is pursuing the Huffman Koos furniture store at the 717 Berlin Turnpike location with the intentions of transforming the business into an adult bookstore and novelty shop. The 14,000 square-foot building would contain and sell adult DVDs, books, lingerie and other sex-related items.

During several meetings between planning and zoning and VIP, residents have continued to voice their disapproval for the business and its possible proximity to local neighborhoods inhabited by children.

Residents have also expressed their concern with the secondary effects that could occur if this business takes residence in town.

The Huffman Koos building was defaced late last month by an unidentified person/group who had spray painted derogatory remarks regarding the possible move by VIP.

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