Adult novelty store proposal causes controversy in East Longmeadow

EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s an unconventional debate over Adam & Eve in East Longmeadow.

Adam & Eve is an adult novelty store located in Greenfield, which wants to open their second location at 173B Shaker Road in East Longmeadow. A proposal that’s stirring controversy.

John Pantera of East Longmeadow told 22News, he doesn’t want to see an adult novelty store open in his town. “I respect that it’s a business, but I definitely don’t want it in our community where we’re raising kids and surrounding by a lot of schools, and it’s a very family oriented type of town, so I just think it doesn’t really have a place here.”

AJ Johnson, the manager of Adam & Eve told 22News they looked for property in East Longmeadow because the town doesn’t have an adult bylaw in place, but now believes the town is trying to keep their store out.

Johnson said when they met with the town’s Planning Board weeks after submitting their application, they were told they needed to provide more paperwork that wasn’t previously discussed.

She also said the Planning Board started to draft an adult zoning bylaw to keep them out, as soon as they submitted their application.

Planning Board Chair George Kingston told 22News they were considering the bylaw before Adam & Eve submitted their application.

The bylaw would prohibit adult novelty stores from opening within 1,000 feet of each other, churches, a school property line, library, museum, playground, or park, and 500 feet from residences.

Those regulations would likely disqualify the building at 173 Shaker Road, which is located just a few hundred feet from a house, and just over a mile from the high school.

Kingston said the Planning Board worries the property is located right in front of East Longmeadow’s bike path, which children may use to walk home from school. He also said the residents who came to their meeting also reflected concerns about the proposed adult store.

Scott McGregor, the owner of Adam & Eve told 22News the distance from schools and churches isn’t the only problem in the bylaw proposal, he said the town also wants to limit their sales to having just 10% come from adult products.

22News asked Kingston whether Adam & Eve would realistically be able to open anywhere in town if the bylaw passes. He said legally, they can prevent the store from opening in certain locations, but they can’t and won’t stop them from opening in town.

Under a Supreme Court ruling, adult novelty stores are protected under the First Amendment, but cities and towns can still pass bylaws to regulate where they can operate.

Kingston said their goal is make sure the store is isolated from children, not the town in its entirety.

While many residents are against the proposed store, others don’t feel as strongly. One man who didn’t wanted to remain anonymous told 22News, a business is a business. “If somebody wants to go out there and invest in an entrepreneurial business like that and take a risk, I don’t think it’s anybody’s right to stop them.”

The issue could be decided on at the Planning Board’s next meeting November 21st.