Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
The Blue Boutique hopes to open at its new Sugar House location on Saturday. But nearby residents haven't given up on a legal challenge.

Mannequins will be dressed as Santa's sexy helpers, modeling knee-high boots and skimpy red outfits trimmed with white faux fur.

And the real people who live nearby will be shielding their children's eyes while lacing up their boxing gloves.

'Tis the season for squabbling in Sugar House, where the Blue Boutique is preparing to open its doors as soon as Saturday — and residents are mulling a legal challenge to close the store as soon as possible.

Residents who don't want the adult-novelty store relocating into their neighborhood at 1400 East and 2100 South have spoken at public meetings, signed petitions, filed complaints, written letters, sent e-mails, made phone calls — anything they can think of to get elected officials' attention and prevent the store from opening.

Thus far, they've only been successful at drawing attention to their cause, which some residents say means it's time to get a lawyer.

"We're not done yet," said Sugar House resident Kevin Winn. "We're probably going to get an attorney and see what we can do."

Residents who oppose the Blue Boutique's new location say there are several areas that warrant a legal challenge.

For one, the area is zoned as a neighborhood-commercial district (CN), which according to city code is "intended to provide small-scale commercial uses that can be located within residential neighborhoods without having significant impact upon residential uses."

Sugar House resident Julie Price said she doesn't believe the Blue Boutique meets the requirements of the CN zone and blames the sexy-shop controversy on city officials "for not following the zoning laws they put in place."

Other residents contend that the Blue Boutique is a sexually oriented business (SOB) masquerading as a legitimate retail outlet. They say the store, which has had a presence in Sugar House for the past 20 years, has been able to duck the label because the city has ignored one of the two definitions of SOBs in city code.

According to city attorney Ed Rutan, the definition of SOB followed by city staff requires that less than 15 percent of a store's retail floor or shelf space be devoted to merchandise that is excluded from minors.

The second definition deals with the types of items for sale or rent at a store. According to the code, the sale of "instruments, devices or paraphernalia" designated for use in "specified sexual activities" qualify a store as a sexually oriented business.

Both definitions are 20 years old, Rutan said, which makes it difficult to determine the intent of the policy. However, the way city business-licensing personnel have interpreted the code is a "reasonable interpretation," he said.

Some members of the City Council have asked for another legal review of the city's SOB code, "just to see if there's anything that can be done," Councilman Eric Jergensen said.

"But I think our attorney has done a good job at reviewing the ordinance," he said.

Jergensen said there has been discussion about revisiting the SOB and CN zoning ordinances to determine their intents and purposes and whether those are being met.

Incoming Councilman JT Martin also favors a review of the ordinances, hoping to "avoid these kinds of polarizing events in the future."

As for the Blue Boutique opening in Sugar House, however, "the toothpaste is out of the tube on that one," Martin said. "The Blue Boutique has every right to be there."

Mayor Rocky Anderson said the city is simply "standing by the rule of law."

"The ordinance as it's written makes clear that the Blue Boutique is not a sexually oriented business," Anderson said.

The Blue Boutique, which specializes in lingerie, sex toys, adult videos and other adult merchandise, hopes to open its doors at its new location Saturday, said owner Laura Martinez.

Employees are working to get the store ready to be inspected today by city fire and business-licensing officials. If they don't meet that deadline, Martinez said the store will open Monday or Tuesday.

Martinez said she's not worried about her new neighbors, who have picketed the store in recent weeks. She defends the store, its merchandise and its right to be in its new location.

"My store isn't a bad store," she said. "Kids see worse on the Internet, on TV and going to the movies."

Some neighbors see things differently, which is why they're talking about pooling their funds to hire an attorney and explore their legal options.

"A lot of people still want to try to fight this and at least let the owner know this is how we feel," Winn said. "They are not welcome. We do not want them here."


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