The Blue Boutique wants to bring sexy shopping into a Sugar House neighborhood, and residents and parents of Highland High School students aren't happy about it.
About 150 members of the community met Tuesday night in the Highland High library to air their concerns about the adult-novelty shop's plans to relocate into the neighborhood at 1400 East and 2100 South, as well as to discuss strategies to keep that from happening.
"Is there hope and can we make a change? Yes," said community activist Jan Haug, who conducted the meeting. "You have a lot of power. How you use your power is by communicating with your elected officials."
Meeting organizers armed those who attended the meeting with prepared petition packets and city zoning information, and they encouraged residents to call or e-mail members of the Salt Lake City Council to express their concerns. Residents also plan to attend the City Council meeting Dec. 4 to explain to city leaders why the business doesn't belong in the neighborhood.
The Blue Boutique, which specializes in lingerie, sex toys, adult videos and other adult merchandise, plans to open its doors in mid-December at its new Sugar House location three blocks away from Highland High School.
It's a few blocks closer to the school than the Blue Boutique's previous location at 1080 E. 2100 South. The business has been forced out of that building as part of a planned redevelopment by Craig Mecham Investments. The building that housed the Blue Boutique for the past 20 years is scheduled to be demolished.
Owners of the adult novelty shop were hoping to be able to stay at its previous location until the new building is ready to open its doors. Owners lost its appeal of an eviction notice in court last week and were ordered out of the building. The shop closed its doors Friday.
Several residents who spoke at Tuesday night's meeting said they don't believe the Blue Boutique should be allowed to open at the proposed location because it does not meet the zoning requirements.
The area is zoned as a neighborhood commercial district, which according to city code "is intended to provide for small-scale commercial uses that can be located within residential neighborhoods without having significant impact on residential uses."
The zone also "is intended to reinforce the historical scale and ambiance of traditional neighborhood retail."
"I don't know about the neighborhoods you grew up in, but this is not traditional," said Sean Thompson, a Sugar House resident.
Thompson was part of a grass-roots effort earlier this year to keep a 27-unit condominium complex from locating on the same property. He even suggested during the meeting that developer Sugar Mill LLC wants to lease the new project to the Blue Boutique as a way to get back at the community for derailing the project.
"In my opinion, they're angry about losing the condo project," Thompson said. "In my personal opinion, it was a retaliation."
Attempts to reach Sugar Mill representatives for comment Tuesday night were unsuccessful.
Other residents are hoping Salt Lake City staff will review the guidelines for what constitutes a sexually oriented business. Blue Boutique stores have qualified as retail sales outlets because they have less than than 15 percent of their retail floor or shelf space devoted to adult novelties that are excluded from minors.
Sharon Pritchett said she isn't buying the label. The second part of the city's code deals with the types of items for sale or rent that constitutes the sexually oriented business tag, including "instruments, devices or paraphernalia" designated for sexual activities.
"We all know they sell some paraphernalia," Pritchett said.Blue Boutique stores remain open at two other locations, 3994 W. 3500 South, West Valley City, and 780 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City. The opening of the latter location in 2005 also was met with resistance from neighbors and parents of children who attend nearby Jackson Elementary School.
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