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Sex store causes a flap on Waltham's "Restaurant Row"

Posted by Megan McKee  July 14, 2010 05:45 PM

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Residents have accepted that the two adult novelty shops adorning Waltham’s Moody Street predate the renaissance that’s turned the city’s downtown into a destination eating area known as Restaurant Row, said veteran city councilor Robert Logan.

But the balance between acceptance and indignation was tipped during a recent renovation at Amazing.net, which sits at the top of Moody Street. The store replaced its front façade with clear glass, allowing passers-by to see the store’s merchandise, said Logan.

“We haven't bothered these people and they've been there for 20 years. No one's looking to shut the place down,” said Logan. But the store must comply with a city ordinance that requires sexually explicit merchandise not be visible from the street, he said.

“If you want to take your family to dinner on Restaurant Row, you don't want your 9-year-old daughter to see those things,” said Logan.

An employee at the Waltham Amazing.net store said a manager wasn't on
duty to answer questions about the complaints. A spokesman for the store's corporate owner in Cranston, R.I. did not return a phone call Wednesday.

Logan said that more than a decade ago, the city passed a zoning ordinance regulating shops that sell sexually explicit items to industrial areas. But Avenue Libraries--Amazing.net’s predecessor—and the other Moody Street shop, Lifestyles Adult Boutique, were grandfathered in under state law and allowed to keep operating at their locations.

No other stores selling sexually explicit items can set up shop on Moody Street, and the stores wouldn’t be able to operate on the street if they moved even a door down, said Logan.

The city also has an ordinance restricting visibility to sexually explicit merchandise. This has never been a problem at either Moody Street shop until recently, said Logan. Before Amazing’s renovation, the store’s windows were plastered with posters, he said.

Though the store has two large posters in the windows—a man and a woman in their underwear--there are large gaps around the posters allowing easy visibility to the store’s contents. In addition, the front door is clear glass.

Since the renovation, Logan has received several complaints from constituents. He said he has contacted the building inspector—the person responsible for enforcing the ordinances—and the inspector will be meeting soon with Amazing.net’s representatives to discuss how the store will comply.

Megan McKee can be reached at megan.mckee@gmail.com.

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