Seeking injunction to allow store

A company that runs a chain of adult novelty stores filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court against the City of Alachua challenging Ordinance 11-06 passed earlier this year which prevents the store from opening in a building that had been home to The Western Teepee several years ago.

The ordinance restricts the types of businesses allowed to operate within an area labeled the “Gateway Activity Center,” a 2,000-foot zone surrounding the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 441.

Alachua Retail 51, L.L.C., operating under the name of The Lions Den Adult Boutique is also seeking immediate injunctive relief from Ordinance 11-06 citing claims that not allowing the adult novelty to open would result in “irreparable injury.”

Representing The Lions Den is Attorney Gary Edinger, the same Gainesville attorney who represented owners of Adult World, another sexually-oriented business, which sued the City after it was not permitted to open in 2003.

City of Alachua Attorney Marian Rush said she received a telephone call from Edigner’s office asking if the City would agree not to enforce the ordinance which prevents the store’s opening.  Rush said she was presenting the matter to the commission for consideration.

Vice-Mayor Ben Boukari, Jr. said, “It would be laughable to think that we wouldn’t enforce an ordinance we passed and something that’s been in the works for several years and not just something that happened in the last six months.”

In February, The Lions Den submitted a partial application to the City to open its shop in the vacant building which front U.S. Highway 441.  Meanwhile, the City was in the throes of drafting an ordinance detailing the permitted types of businesses in the Gateway Activity Center area.  The City adopted a moratorium preventing any new businesses from opening in the 2,000-foot zone until the final ordinance could be completed.

Commissioners approved the Gateway Activity Center ordinance on May 23.  Sexually-oriented businesses were among those uses not allowed.

Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to continue enforcement of Ordinance 11-06.