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Florida Adult store must move or shut down; In Violation of a City Ordinance

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DELTONA — from www.journalonline.com – A business featuring lingerie, adult DVDs and sex toys could be forced to move or shut down.

Dare Wear Fashions, which has operated for 20 years, is in violation of a 1997 city ordinance, the City Commission determined Monday night.

Commissioners told staff to enforce the law that requires adult entertainment businesses to operate in industrially zoned areas, farther away from residential neighborhoods and Interstate 4 than Dare Wear’s location at 2031 Saxon Blvd.

Dare Wear owner Shawn Dresser sat quietly in the back of the meeting room. Asked for his reaction Monday night, he said he had no comment.

Many people assumed the business was operating legally because its opening pre-dated Deltona’s incorporation as a city.

But then-City Attorney Mary Sneed told commissioners in 1997 that Dare Wear would be given 5 1/2 years to move, according to the minutes of a March 1997 meeting. The minutes also note that Dresser was present at the meeting and raised an objection that night.

Dresser “explained the reasons why he thought that his business should not be classified as an adult store. He stated that his adult merchandise was in the back of the store and he had a large clientele from the community,” the minutes read.

City commissioners asked pointed questions about why Dare Wear wasn’t forced to move by the end of 2002. But City Manager Faith Miller – who wasn’t in that role until 2008 – couldn’t answer.

Mayor John Masiarczyk said the city should have established a “tickler file,” something to have reminded staff members in 2002 that the ordinance was about to go into effect.

But that doesn’t explain why in 2007, city staff reviewing the business’ plans to renovate wrote that its zoning was “non-conforming,” but then reversed the opinion in 2008, granting Dare Wear a building permit to make renovations.

One resident, Thomas Bayley, spoke in favor of Dare Wear, saying he believes it should be grandfathered.

“I find this troubling,” he said. “After 20 year of faithfully paying taxes, out of the blue you’re going to enforce this?”

But commissioners were unanimous in their decision to enforce the existing law.

“The ordinance is in effect. The laws are in effect,” Vice Mayor Paul Treusch said. “If you go through a stop sign, you get a ticket. That’s it. I’m sorry that this came about, but we need to enforce the ordinance. It’s cut and dried.”

Other commissioners, including Herb Zischkau, agreed.

“These folks have been out of compliance since 2002,” Zischkau said. “It’s time to stop delaying and start acting.”

City Attorney Becky Vose said she doesn’t anticipate any problem in enforcing an ordinance now, despite the city’s failure to do so 10 years ago.

Commissioner Fred Lowry, a Baptist pastor, began asking questions about Dare Wear’s legitimacy a few months ago after the business erected billboards and a new awning, marketing itself as an “adult superstore.”

Lowry didn’t say much Monday, but Zischkau thanked Lowry for raising the issue.

“I’m grateful to Commissioner Lowry,” Zischkau said. “When he saw that enormous billboard advertising this as the center of smut for Southwest Volusia County, I was shocked. I had no idea the business was there.”

Vose said the next step will be for staff to meet with the business owner. She said the city will give Dare Wear a reasonable amount of time to close or move.

Because Dresser had no comment, it is unknown whether he will challenge the city in court.

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