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Residents mobilize in bid to keep New Fine Arts adult video store from opening

Dallas– After preventing an adult video store from opening its doors a year ago, some Red Bird-area residents are in a final sprint to block the business again.

The sexually oriented business filed for a license renewal with the Dallas police vice unit last week, and officials have about a month to decide whether to approve the renewal.

“We’ve got a short window,” Winsor Barbee, who opposes renewing the license, said at a community planning meeting Thursday night. “I think everyone’s reorganized their schedule.”

Although a police memo states the business’s name had not been determined, community members believe it would be a New Fine Arts adult video store.

For the license to be renewed, police officials would have to attest that the business has not significantly contributed to crime in the area. New Fine Arts co-owners Paul Radnitz and William E. Becker could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at co-owner Gary Hartstein’s home said he was unavailable.

Concerned neighbors plan to review the city’s policy for licensing sexually oriented businesses and develop a proposal to contain them to designated areas.

Residents also want to raise enough donations to buy the building from the owner and eliminate the issue altogether. City Council member Tennell Atkins said that could cost as much as $1 million.

If community leaders can’t buy the building, they hope to put enough pressure on the business with protests to make it leave.

Edna Pemberton, a neighborhood resident, said she’s bothered by the license application because she thought an owner had agreed last year not to open a sexually oriented business there.

“It confuses me because with everything that went down with the community protests last year, why would you come back? To me it’s a slap in the face,” she said.

New Fine Arts received a business license for 5221 S. Westmoreland Road last year but never opened. Owners had agreed to put the roughly 10,000-square-foot building on the market after weeks of protests.

The owners also had agreed to a deed restriction to keep a new owner from opening a sexually oriented business. In exchange, area residents agreed to stop their protests.

Ms. Barbee said she understands that owners want to start making money off the building that never opened. And she understands why they would want to open a store south of Interstate 30.

“The owners said last year they have a customer base in the southern sector,” Ms. Barbee said.

But she said opening a sexually oriented business in the neighborhood will set the area back after years of struggling to attract businesses. Opponents say at least two businesses have warned they might move if a sexually oriented business opens shop.

“We’re trying to hold on to the businesses that we have,” Ms. Barbee said.

Ms. Pemberton said she’s worried a sexually oriented business could increase crime in the area.

She’s also concerned the business would be too close to a high school and charter school.

“When you think about a school, you want something conducive next to the school,” she said. “There’s nothing wonderful that comes [with] it.”

Ms. Pemberton said she’s confident the community opposition will prevail.

“We have a fight ahead of us, and we’re going to win.”

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