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Lion’s Den Opens First Adult Bookstore in Indiana

EAGLE CREEK TOWNSHIP, Indiana — County officials were scrambling Monday to find a way to close down an adult book and video store that opened without warning Sunday in rural Eagle Creek Township just off Interstate 65 east of Lowell.

It was overnight, area residents said, that a huge sign advertising The Lion’s Den, an Adult Super Store, went up at the northeast corner of the intersection of I-65 and Ind. 2 at a building that once housed a Grandma’s Restaurant, then a Citgo gas station and most recently a fireworks business.

The business has another sign three-fourths the length of the building, offering “adult books and videos.” The intersection also includes huge truck stop centers on both the north and south sides of Ind. 2, with accompanying restaurants and gift stores. A Mobile gas station and Burger King restaurant sit just east of the adult store.

Glenda Faitak, who lives in Eagle Creek Estates subdivision about three miles from the store, said she found out about the store’s opening from one of her neighbors.

“We weren’t even notified that it was going in there,” Faitak said. “I’d just like to find out how something that serious wasn’t known to the neighborhood before. We try to keep up on those things because of the landfill.”

Residents of the Eagle Creek area fought a bitter legal battle for several years to keep the proposed Hickory Hills landfill from developing in their area.

The Lions’ Den Web site lists 24 locations in 10 states. There are none listed in Indiana, so this is presumably the first store in the Hoosier state. Because the Lion’s Den had just opened, telephone service was not yet available late Monday afternoon. County officials were also checking to find out who owns the bookstore.

According to the Web site, the company sells videos, lingerie and toys. Some of the sites are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This is much too close,” Faitak said. “I don’t want to drive by this every day. We get our gas right there and we might think twice about going to shop or to eat there now. We just don’t want it in our area. It attracts undesirables and it could make things go just a bit farther.”

Faitak noted that the business is not far from the mobile home community Apple Valley Estates, which is further west on Ind. 2.

“Apple Valley is huge and there are a lot of children there,” she said.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub met with Lake County Councilman Larry Blanchard and county attorneys Joe Irak and George Patrick Monday morning to discuss the issue.

“They had a permit to occupy the building,” Scheub said. “The Council and Commissioners are looking at this situation because it is a concern of the people out there. Our attorneys are looking at whether they followed proper procedures as far as complying with zoning and building regulations.”

Irak said he and Patrick were investigating whether the business is legally located in the B-2 business zone in which it sits.

“We should know something in the next few days,” he said.

Ned Kovachevich, executive director of the Lake County Plan Commission, which oversees planning and zoning in unincorporated Lake County, said his department is also investigating the business and who owns it and the property.

“We don’t have any ordinance that regulates adult stores,” Kovachevich said. “A retail or service establishment is allowed in a B-2 zone.” Kovachevich said the building had received permits for remodeling prior to its occupation, but that owners do not have to identify the type of business when applying for a permit to remodel.

“They don’t have to say anything other than they are retail,” Kovachevich said.

Kovachevich said county officials in the past had begun preliminary inquiries into adopting an ordinance to control businesses in unincorporated areas, but those officials were no longer in office.

Kovachevich said the Lake County Council has the power to add to the zoning ordinance or to set restrictions for a zoning district.

“My goal is to shut them down immediately,” Scheub said. “I’m willing to take this one to court.”

Tom Martinez, also a resident of Eagle Creek Estates, said he and his wife noticed the sign as they returned home from Christmas shopping Sunday.

“You can see it five miles away,” Martinez said. “The signs are big and bold. We stopped them from dumping garbage into a dump, and now they’re dumping this garbage,” he said.

“Right across the street they’re building a little upscale hotel and the Super 8 Motel here has specials for wedding parties. We wonder what kind of people will be coming here now.”

Tim Michalak, an Eagle Creek Estates resident whose 17-year-old daughter works at McDonald’s in one of the nearby travel centers at the intersection, said his daughter was asked by truck drivers when the adult store was going to open.

Another truck driver reportedly made inappropriate remarks to her at the time, “and she went in the back because he made her feel uncomfortable,” Michalak said.

“I don’t think this is the right area for an adult bookstore,” he said. “It’s going to bring the riffraff and who knows what else.”
 

 

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