Politics, Foreplay Make Strange Bedfellows in ChesCo

By Dan Stamm and Karen Araiza
|  Thursday, Mar 19, 2009  |  Updated 12:57 AM EDT
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Sex Shop Controversy Heats Up

Sex is at the center of a zoning battle in West Chester.

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Sex Shop Controversy Heats Up

A West Chester sex shop owner feels threatened by a new city ordinance.
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The Puritan spirit is alive and well in West Chester. So if you're a progressive entrepreneur with a great idea that's not absolutely G-rated, just keep on driving. There won't be a welcome mat for you in this Philly suburb.

Just ask Jill McDevitt.

She owns the Feminique Boutique in West Chester. She also holds a master's degree in human sexuality.

Her store offers a tasteful selection of "lingerie, body lotions, lubricants, massagers and toys for your enjoyment," according to its Web site.

"It's more of an educational center that happens to sell toys," said McDevitt.

Lingerie, adult sexuality and sexual healing are not dirty words if done tastefully, she said.

But her shop became the center of a zoning controversy in downtown West Chester after she opened for business last May.

Borough leaders seemed wary that it could open the door for other "adult-oriented" businesses. So Wednesday night they tightened the Adult Entertainment Ordinance.

No new "adult stores" can open in the downtown area. And no two "sex shops" can operate within 400 feet of each other.

Even though McDevitt's Feminique Boutique is grandfathered in, the new ordinance means stricter rules for some of Jill's activities inside the store. For instance, she can't hold a lingerie fashion show (that would benefit rape victims) without a permit.

"I don't understand why a woman, or a man, can be in lingerie on primetime television during the Victoria's Secret show, but I can't have it to benefit victims of sex crimes," McDevitt said after the meeting.

The stricter ordinance should help to formally recognize the boutique rather than put it out of business, said West Chester's Code Enforcement Director Mike Perrone.

"The new ordinance does nothing to affect her business the way it is currently operating," said Perrone.

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