Lowell, Indiana — Residents of this rural area between Lowell and Hebron, outraged about an adult video and bookstore that opened suddenly Sunday on Ind. 2 and Interstate 65, are taking their protest to the streets.
The group has planned a prayer rally/picket line at 11 a.m. today on a service road in front of The Lion’s Den.
County officials may have found the answer to those prayers already, however.
There may be a chance the county can at least temporarily close the business down. Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub said Tuesday night the building sits on an inadequate sewer system. He said the Lake County Planning Department will fax a letter today to Lion’s Den corporate headquarters in Ohio advising the company of the violation. Scheub said officials made the discovery after checking county records on the property.
“We’re requesting that they hook into available sewers (owned by nearby Apple Valley Estates, a privately owned sewer system) within 100 feet of the building,” said County Attorney George Patrick.
For residents like Linda Cosgrove, that’s going to be welcome news.
“People are extremely upset about this. It’s not only the type of business, but the way they went about it,” she said. Cosgrove said a neighbor had periodically stopped in as remodeling was being done on the building and asked what type of business was going in.
“The workers kept saying, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Cosgrove said.
“They worked very late Saturday night and then Sunday afternoon a ‘now open’ sign went up,” Cosgrove said. “Sunday evening they were welding an ‘Adult Superstore’ sign on the signpost. It was done very secretively,” she said.
“There are other ones where the same exact method of opening has been done,” she said.
Eagle Creek Township has the dubious distinction of being the first “Lion’s Den” adult superstore in the state of Indiana but it is the 33rd in 12 states. The building in recent years housed a restaurant, a gas station and a fireworks store.
According to published reports, Lion’s Dens have a habit of opening in a similar manner, and all of them in former Stuckey’s restaurants. The building that houses the newest Lion’s Den, before it became a Grandma’s Kitchen several decades ago, was also a Stuckey’s.
Known as “freeway porn,” according to the report, the stores all locate in rural areas off of interstates where zoning ordinances do not address adult entertainment.
Such is the case in unincorporated Lake County, which is under the jurisdiction of the Lake County Plan Commission.
“What would we do if a gentlemen’s club opens up here?” Ned Kovachevich, executive director of the Lake County Plan Commission said Tuesday. “We don’t differentiate between adult and regular businesses.” Kovachevich said county attorneys are still working on a way to shut down The Lion’s Den, but he admitted that is difficult to do because of the First Amendment, which governs free speech.
Lake County Councilman Larry Blanchard, who said he planned to attend today’s prayer rally, said although it is unconstitutional to ban adult entertainment businesses, the Plan Commission could initiate another type of zoning and set restrictions to control it.
Lion’s Den field manager Joseph Sargent said the store has had a good response so far, and stressed that “it’s not a typical adult store. They talk about how organized and clean it is,” he said Tuesday. The store is brightly lit, carpeted, and items are neatly displayed.
A sign on the front door prohibits anyone under 18 from entering the 24-hour business, which has a security camera and a posted sign prohibiting loitering and soliciting.
“We card everybody who comes in,” Sargent said.
“One of the goals of our company is to provide a safe, bright, clean environment for men, women and couples.”
Sargent said the store has no on-site movies or live girls and has no intention of ever doing so.
“It’s strictly retail,” he said. “The adult industry is a private part of an adult’s life,” he said. “There’s obviously a need for this type of business. If there wasn’t, it wouldn’t be successful.”