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BOARDMAN Trustees uneasy about proposal for new store



Published: Fri, July 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



According to the prosecutor's office, Ambiance is within its rights to open shop here.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Township trustees are not thrilled about an incoming Cleveland-based retail store that deals in adult toys, love games and lingerie, but a site has been selected and the doors on the store may open in the near future.

Representatives from Ambiance, The Store for Lovers have submitted plans to zoning officials to move into a section of a plaza on U.S. Route 224 across from Southern Park Mall. The plans show how the exterior of the store will look and where signs will be placed.

The company has not given an opening date for the store.

Ordinance

Trustees, in conjunction with Austintown and Beaver townships, recently authorized the hiring of Alan C. Weinstein, a consultant from Cleveland, to help reconstruct the township's adult-business ordinances after a magistrate struck down Austintown's ordinance as unconstitutional.

Trustee Tom Costello said the current Boardman ordinances are similar to those deemed unconstitutional.

Costello said trustees want to eliminate the potential for adult cabarets or strip clubs, massage parlors and adult bookstores. He said those types of adult-oriented businesses are not what his constituents want in the community.

Jennifer Downey, owner of Ambiance, insists that the store is far more than the adult-oriented businesses described by township officials. She said residents will not have to worry about signs advertising 25-cent peep shows or movies stamped triple-X because the company targets a different customer base.

Type of business

According to Downey, Ambiance strives to be the place where "Mom can come shop" without feeling embarrassed or uneasy. That approach, she said, makes the store something other than the adult stores many communities try to avoid.

An opinion on the situation given to trustees by the Mahoning County Prosecutor's office, acting as legal counsel to trustees, seems to echo Downey's feelings. Ambiance, the prosecutor's office determined, does not fall under the umbrella of a sexually oriented business.

Costello said the prosecutor's office determined that many of the items offered in the store can be purchased at other stores here, such as Spencer Gifts in the Southern Park Mall. Trustees were advised that calling Ambiance a sexually oriented business would mean that other businesses would have to be categorized the same way.

Costello said there are no set guidelines to determine what is a sexually oriented business.

Costello said Ambiance has reached an agreement with the property owners from whom they will lease not to sell certain items in the store, but he did not say what those items are.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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