Condom Store Hard To Unwrap

Condoms and MoreGRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS – A condom store set to open at 2502 S. Belt Line Road has Grand Prairie council members fuming and city officials struggling to determine exactly what defines a sexually oriented business.
Though not yet open, Condoms and More is causing an uproar in Grand Prairie.
“If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Mayor Charles England said last week. “I don’t care what you call it, it’s a sexually oriented business.”
The City Council has called a special meeting at 5 p.m. today to discuss the issue with the city attorney and staff.
Among the neighbors taking interest is the Grand Prairie school district, whose administration building is just a few hundred feet from Condoms and More.
City Manager Tom Hart said he expects to decide whether to issue a certificate of occupancy within a week. The application, dated Aug. 1, describes the store as a retail gift and gag store that includes “condoms and lubes.”
“I think it’s the ‘and more’ part that’s the problem,” Mr. Hart said. “If they really were just selling condoms it probably wouldn’t be an issue.”
Mr. Hart said a recent city inspection determined some of the store’s merchandise was in violation of city guidelines. The owners said they would make changes, he said.
“There were items for sale that in my opinion would be outside of our ordinance. Those would have to do with items that provide sexual gratification or stimulation,” Mr. Hart said.
Eight years ago, the council hammered out an ordinance that restricts sexually oriented businesses to a 30-acre site tucked behind auto shops and salvage yards. To date, no sexually oriented business has opened on the site east of the old Dallas Naval Air Station that can only be accessed by an unpaved, single-lane road.
Other area cities, including Garland, DeSoto and Carrollton, have clashed with store owners over what constitutes a sexually oriented business.
Richardson officials are fighting a federal lawsuit filed by a store that opened in September. The city contends Zone d’Erotica is a sexually oriented business that requires a special permit. The store’s owners disagree.
Council member Bill Thorn, who represents the district where Condoms and More is located, said he has a lot of unhappy constituents.
“I’ve received more calls on this than any issue I’ve had since I’ve been on the council,” Mr. Thorn said. “If there’s any way possible, I would like to see it gone.”
School district spokesman Sam Buchmeyer said because it’s a zoning issue, he’s not aware of anything the GPISD can do.
There are no classes in the administration building, but schoolchildren are frequent visitors, Mr. Buchmeyer said. There also is a school bus stop near the store.
The store will prohibit anyone under 18 from entering, but Alina Yanez said that doesn’t keep children from looking through the windows.
“There are a lot of kids in this area who walk through here. I have two young kids, and I wouldn’t want them seeing some of that stuff,” said Ms. Yanez, manager of a check-cashing business two doors down from the store.
A woman reached by phone Monday, who identified herself only as Meena, said she and her husband own Condoms and More. She declined further comment.
The certificate of occupancy application filed with the city is signed by Shashi Sharma and lists the owner as Erotique Shop Inc. State records show that company’s agent and director is Meenakshi Sharma of Fort Worth.
from The Dallas Morning News

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