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Residents speak out against adult shop, proposed wine store

The exterior of the XXX Shop The exterior of the XXX Shop

New Orleans, La. - Some residents in the Faubourg-Marigny say they're just trying to protect their neighborhood, but the owner of a local adult novelty store is fighting back.

Commercial zoning allowed the shop to open in the 1800 block of North Rampart near family homes; now residents fear they are losing their quality of life.

The house where the store is located looks very similar to others on this quiet Marigny street, except for a couple of small plaques on the door, identifying it as the XXX Shop.  It sells adult novelties and lingerie.

Owner Paul Finholt said, "I was crystal clear with what my intent was so that later on, no one could come back and say that my application was inappropriate in any way. And quite frankly they were enthusiastic."

Finholt insists he is following city guidelines.

Eugene Cizek is a nearly-30-year resident of the area. He said, "There are not any strip clubs, there have been no porn shops and that sort of thing, and we are afraid the city is going to let us down."

The property where the XXX Shop is located is zoned commercial. That allows for a retail shop.

Finholt has been inspected by the city. While his website sells explicit items, the merchandise displayed in the store is within allowable guidelines.

Cizek said, "The City Planning Commission and some of the powers-that-be are getting a little too flexible in how they are interpreting the zoning."

Cizek was instrumental in developing the Historic Marigny District as a professor of architecture. He said, "We're a vocal group. We work very hard at trying to get the best we can for the neighborhood, to develop a quality of life and then maintain it."

He and neighbors worry that current zoning laws are being manipulated against the best interest of the neighborhood.

While the neighborhood association can't do much about the XXX Shop, the group is speaking out to the New Orleans City Council about a proposed wine shop on Burgundy.

Ken Caron said, "This part of the Marigny is fairly quiet. We want to protect that. This is a residential neighborhood. Again, look at the street. It's really a residential neighborhood and we want it to remain that way."

A spokesperson for the wine shop -- owners plan to call  it Second Vine -- say they have a lot of support in the community.

Kevin Stuart said, "They've met us. They've talked to us. They know we want to be a good neighbor."

The shop appealed to the city for a special amendment that, if passed, would affect the status of nearly 200 properties in the Marigny, as well as Treme.

Stuart said, "The restrictions are very tight. We're in a very narrow corridor on that and that's our sweet spot. We're very happy with that. We don't think it's a real worry as far as precedent."

The council will consider that amendment at its next meeting. The city would not comment about the proposed wine store, but did say Safety and Permits has contacted the owner of the adult shop to make sure his merchandise falls within the approved zoning guidelines.

Finholt has applied for membership to the Marigny Neighborhood Association and hopes to speak with the board and others in the community to ease their concerns.

Owners of the proposed wine shop are holding meet-and-greet events and canvassing the neighborhood in order to help residents understand their intent for the property and gain support for the zoning amendment.

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