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Durham Officials to try to mediate Adam & Eve tangle

DURHAM — A city councilman and Durham’s city/county planning director will try to act as go-betweens and arrange talks between the owners of an Adam & Eve sex toys shop and neighbors unhappy with its pending move to the Southpoint area.

Officials went along with the idea Monday night after the councilman, Howard Clement, asked his colleagues to hold a public hearing on the possibility of the store’s opening on the northwest corner of Fayetteville Road and N.C. 54.

Clement — whose ward covers the site and many of the neighborhoods from which complaints about the store have come — said the council owes people a chance to sound off and “an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the” project.

But his colleagues didn’t want to hold a hearing because the council at this point has no regulatory authority over the project.

The site is zoned for retail development and City/County Planning Director Steve Medlin said again on Monday that he and his staff regard Adam & Eve as a retailer.

Given that, the appropriate thing is for critics of the store to “go talk with the owners of the … store and get them to temper what’s in the window display,” Councilman Eugene Brown said.

Councilwoman Cora Cole-McFadden said Medlin should help arrange that meeting.

Clement was dubious.

“Should not the council intervene with the owners of Adam & Eve to see whether we could come to some compromise or agreement?” he asked. “I don’t think the onus ought to be left on the neighborhoods.”

Mayor Bill Bell responded to that by suggesting that Clement work with Medlin. “Why don’t you be the liaison from the council?” he said.

Clement agreed and welcomed Medlin’s assistance. “I need all the help I can get,” he said.

The impending move of Adam & Eve from its present quarters next to Spartacus restaurant on U.S. 15-501 in the South Square area has been drawing complaints from neighbors for about a month.

Critics have relayed their views to council members via e-mail and telephone calls. They’ve also gotten together an on-line petition that as of 8:33 p.m. Monday had collected 1,150 signatures opposing the move.

The store’s opponents contend its placement the corner of N.C. 54 and Fayetteville Road is inappropriate because of the site’s visibility to passing motorists and proximity to homes just to the north.

Much of the opposition has come from residents of Woodcroft and the newer neighborhoods in the Fayetteville Road corridor.

Bell lives nearby in a neighborhood off Grandale Road and has to pass the Adam & Eve site on his way to either of the area’s two grocery stores. He nonetheless opposed Clement’s suggestion of a hearing.

“For the record, I don’t want anybody to feel I’m comfortable with that store being there,” he said. “I probably live closer to that store than anyone else on the council. I just don’t want anyone to come down here with the expectations we can do something.”

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