Cortez ‘adult fun shop’ plan aborted

By Lisa Neff, Islander Reporter

The building at 12207 Cortez Road W. advertises golf cart sales and repairs and, separately, lingerie, romantic gifts and adult novelties. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

The signage catches the eye.
Among the signs along Cortez Road West advertising smoked mullet, fresh fish, cold beer, karaoke, RV rental space and ice cream, the signs at 12207 Cortez Road W. boast “romantic gifts,” “lingerie and novelties,” “create dreams” and “adult fun shop.” The signs are not pulsating in the neon-glow of a red light district, but are mostly hand-painted in a sour apple and lemon color scheme.
Outside the single-story building near the east approach to the Cortez Bridge, golf carts are lined in a row.
Some Cortezians are joking about the incongruity of advertising the sale of golf carts and adult novelties.
Others are not joking, but raising concerns with Manatee County staff and elected officials about their fears that a sexually oriented business exists on the outskirts of a historic fishing village that increasingly draws tourists.
But the owner of the golf cart business says any fears are unfounded. His wife only planned to open a retail shop to sell lingerie and a few novelty items, but now, given the complaints and hassles, the couple plans to move operations.
“She’s not going to open it,” Roy Sumner said. “Our landlord is raising hell.… We’re going to move.”
Landlord Lou Nassar said yes, he did raise hell.
“When they rented the place, I didn’t think they were going to have that adult business,” he said. “I thought they were going to have golf carts and beach equipment.”
Nassar said he has had problems with the tenants and about a week ago began the process to evict them.
Sumner said the impression of his wife’s business “got off on the wrong track” and “the thing to do is move on.”
The situation, he added, is “unfortunate.”
The lingerie and novelty shop, advertised at the front of 12207 Cortez Road, isn’t open — the interior space is mostly bare.
Still, villagers, Cortez Road business people and some elected officials perceived the shop as a threat to the ambience of the fishing village and to the character of the nearby residential community.
“There’s a school bus stop right there,” said Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, who said he fielded a number of telephone and e-mail complaints about the shop.
Adult business
Cortez is in unincorporated Manatee County, which has an ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses, known around the county administrative building in Bradenton as SOBs. Whether a business is an SOB depends on whether revenues from adult sales generate a substantial portion of revenues.
In Manatee, a license is required to operate an SOB — the initial cost is $100 and annual renewals cost $50.
The county land-development code prohibits an SOB from being within 500 feet of property zoned residential or village districts or from being within 2,000 feet of a day care center or public recreation facility. An SOB cannot be within 2,500 feet of a church or school or 1,000 feet of another SOB.
Chappie said that the situation in Cortez raises awareness that the county has some work to do on its SOB regulations.
“There are inconsistencies with the LDC and our SOB ordinance,” the commissioner said, specifically referring to questions about what constitutes an SOB.
The county needs to better define how it calculates a substantial portion of revenues and re-examine its definition of an SOB.
“As far as I’m concerned, we can’t put this on the back burner,” Chappie said. “We have to keep on top of it.… You have to be fair. You have to follow the rules. But you have to be aware of it, and be on top of it.”
Chappie said he has called for a commission workshop on SOBs.
And, he added, if an SOB opened in Cortez, “the village could be seriously affected.”

Published in: on December 6, 2010 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

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