Pembroke tells store owner to remove adult items from display window
Evelyn Carey pauses in front of the Trevor's Toybox storefront on Main Street in Pembroke; Monday, March 18, 2013. "I'll probably be the store's second customer," said Carey. On Monday, residents and owners of other downtown businesses complained to the Board of Selectmen, who said they have issued a notice that the store is out of compliance with town zoning. (SAMANTHA GORESH / Monitor staff)
A new store in Suncook village has drawn a lot of attention since unveiling a window display featuring mannequins decked in studded leather and holding handcuffs.
The sign and display for Trevor’s Toybox went up last Wednesday; Monday night several residents and local business owners attended the Pembroke selectmen’s meeting to complain that it’s out of character with the historic business district.
The town code enforcement officer sent a notice of violation to the owner, Larry Preston, who also owns the building at 145 Main St., where the store is located on the first floor.
The letter outlines several violations and gives the store until 9 a.m. tomorrow to comply.
The store was scheduled to open April 1, according to a post made on Facebook in February. A man who answered at a phone number listed for the store referred all questions to Preston, who said Tuesday he hadn’t received any notice of violation and would not answer further questions.
“I really can’t speak to anything. This is an ongoing situation and we’ll just have to see how things develop,” he said. “I think a lot of people are mistaken. I think a lot of people have jumped to conclusions. There are several people in the community that have made errors and are mistaken about what they think is going on. . . . People are putting the cart before the horse. Nobody has ever asked what I’m doing here.”
When asked, Preston would not say what the store will sell.
But residents and business owners said this week they think it’s pretty clear what’s going on.
When she first saw the display last week, the male mannequin wore only a leather thong under a pair of leather chaps and held a black leather whip in his hand, said Paula Despres, who owns Jacques Pastries across the street from Trevor’s.
“Everybody has the right to do business and make a living, but it’s not a business that’s conducive to the area. It’s repelling for the other businesses,” she said.
“We have a lot of young children that walk through here, and they shouldn’t have to be subjected to that.”
Her husband, Jacques Despres, agreed. The two were among the group of residents at the board meeting Monday.
“I don’t care what people do behind closed doors. I really don’t care. But kids shouldn’t have to see it,” he said.
That was the reasoning behind the town’s zoning ordinances, said Tina Courtemanche, chairwoman of the board of selectmen. The town ordinances allow both live adult entertainment, such as strip clubs, and passive adult entertainment, such as adult bookshops where sexual paraphernalia is sold, in the northernmost outcropping of town, between Concord and Loudon by Ricker Road. Passive adult entertainment is also allowed in a district bordered by Borough Road, Commerce Way and Route 106 by special exception.
To be in compliance, Preston is required to remove all sexual paraphernalia from the show window, apply to the planning board for a major site plan because the shop was formerly used as office space and apply for a change of use from the zoning board, a building permit and occupancy permit from the town, according to the letter.
If those conditions aren’t met by the deadline, the town may seek penalties under state law that could total $275 for the first day and $550 each day thereafter.
(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or
firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)
This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: The deadline for the store to comply with town regulations is 9 a.m. Friday, March 22.