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Longview sex store license delayed for survey

By Sherry Koonce
Oct. 15, 2012 at 10 p.m.

The fate of a sexually oriented business planned for Longview's FRJ Drive remained in flux Monday while surveyors for the city worked to determine whether the building site is far enough removed from a neighboring residence.

City ordinance requires a minimum of 1,000 feet between such a business and a residential property line.

City spokesman Shawn Hara said a GIS mapping program showed the location was too close to make an accurate determination without an official survey.

On Sept. 13, Robert Duggan, president of Gregg County Video Inc., applied to open the shop at 55 FRJ Drive, an industrial area between Cotton Street and U.S. 80 on the city's eastern border.

The proposed shop - to be named Venus - would sell items ranging from racy lingerie, clothing and shoes to sexually explicit toys and adult videos.

The city's chief of police, per the city ordinance, has 30 days to review such applications to determine whether a proposed business meets the ordinance requirements.

That 30-day period has run.

Duggan said he would wait while surveyors hired by the city measure the distance, but would only wait so long.

"I am willing to let them do their investigation with the confidence that it is 1,000 feet away," Duggan said.

Prior to submitting his application, Duggan said he hired his own surveyors, who determined the distance requirements were met.

During the 30-day waiting period, neighboring businesses have voiced concerns about a sex shop moving into the light industrial area, said Wayne Frost, District 4 city councilman.

The proposed sex shop is located in Frost's district.

"The people that own the industry out there, I have had several call me, they don't want it out there," Frost said.

Duggan said he was aware some of the neighbors worried crime rates would increase if the sex shop moved in, but wanted to assure neighbors he would run a clean business that would not attract crime.

By the city's own rules, a sexually oriented business has no choice other than to locate in areas like FRJ Drive, Duggan said.

"We are forced to go into dark industrial areas because the law forces us to be away from practically everything," Duggan said. "Fortunately, there is an appetite for our type of business, whether people in this region understand that or not."

Duggan, who also owns similar businesses in Kilgore, as well as in Missouri and Arkansas, said his Kilgore facility is frequented by customers from the Longview and Marshall area.

He said he also worries about the criminal element - especially after a store clerk in his Kilgore store, Texas Adult Video and Toys, was killed during a robbery on Jan. 10, 2011.

"It is a tragedy when anybody loses their life over money, but it is also a tragedy when somebody would assume that our business is associated with crime," Duggan said. "It would be the equivalent of me saying every priest is a pedophile; every Christian is nothing but a Jimmy Swaggart."

If the city approves the license application, Duggan said he planned to honor Renee Garrett, the store clerk who lost her life in the robbery, by dedicating the building in her name.

If approved, Venus would be the third sexually oriented business in Longview, but Duggan's first in the city.

The two others are Private Pleasures at 222 W. Tyler St., and The Adult Super Store at 55205 West Loop 281.

Though U.S. 80 is home to several topless clubs, they do not fall within the city's criteria for a sexually oriented business, Hara said.

The proposed Venus sex store is classified as an adult book store under the city's sexually oriented business because of the intent of sexual paraphernalia and instruments as well as the nude depictions in books, magazines, photographs, videos and the like.

Other businesses, such as the gentlemen's clubs located on Marshall Avenue, are governed by a separate ordinance that prohibits nudity in a commercial business at which alcohol beverages are served or offered for sale.



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