From The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS —
A federal judge has ruled against an eastern Missouri town’s efforts to keep an adult-themed store from operating there.
Pevely, a town of 5,500 residents about 35 miles south of St. Louis, opposed allowing the Pure Pleasure Boutique in a building zoned for commercial use, but the store opened anyway about two years ago.
The city denied the store a business license and other permits and issued almost daily citations, an accumulation of fines that now exceed $100,000, Luke Lirot, attorney for the boutique owners, said Friday.
“The city wouldn’t even hook up the sewer,” Lirot said. “They used a fiberglass outhouse in the parking lot.”
The Florida owners of the store, Don Kleinhans, his father, Don Kleinhans Sr. and brother Jim Kleinhans, filed a lawsuit in January 2011. In a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Henry Edward Autry said the city violated the First Amendment rights of the store operators.
“In this case, the evidence is clear and undisputed,” Autry said. His ruling orders Pevely to grant Pure Pleasure Boutique a business license, building permits and sign permits, as well as hook up sewer and water lines.
City Administrator Jason Eisenbeis, in a statement, called the ruling disappointing and said officials will meet soon to discuss how to proceed. He did not return phone messages seeking comment.
The Kleinhans operate a small chain of Pure Pleasure Megacenter stores in Florida, Illinois and Missouri. The Pevely store is a toned-down version that, unlike the “Megacenter” stores, doesn’t sell pornography. It sells items such as lingerie, lubricants, novelties and marital aids.
The goal was to avoid products that would render the store a “sexually oriented business” and allow its location in a retail zone, Lirot said. Sexually oriented businesses in Pevely are allowed only in industrial zones.
Lirot said that soon after the store was proposed, the city made changes to the ordinance related to adult stores.
“The city did everything they could to try and prevent that business from opening,” Lirot said.
A decision on whether damages will be awarded is still pending.