A new Fort Worth business has Ridglea Hills neighbors excited, though not necessarily in the way the owners had hoped.
The Romance Store at 6501 Camp Bowie Blvd. is the third Fort Worth location for the business, but some of its new neighbors wish it had never opened there.
“Take the neighborhood part out of it,” said neighbor Alana Latiolais. “A school is really the biggest problem. A school is really a stone's throw from that location.”
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The Montessori Children's House has operated around the corner on Clayton Road from the business location since 1968.
“I really thought there was an ordinance that would protect us from that sort of thing,” said Amy Henderson, head of the school.
“We've had a middle school student ask, ‘What is a romance store?’ So you really hate to have to explain that to someone that's 13 years old,” Henderson said.
Items advertised on the store’s Facebook page are clearly intended for adults, but The Romance Store's operators claim they only sell gifts, novelties, clothing and DVDs that fall below the threshold of a sexually oriented adult business under Fort Worth rules.
“Any normal person would probably be appalled with what they post on their pages,” Latiolais said.
A sexually oriented business would have distance spacing requirements away from a school, but The Romance Store is considered a regular retail store.
By all indications the store is operating legally under current Fort Worth ordinances, but neighbors want the city to change the rules.
The neighborhood’s city council member, Zim Zimmerman, has asked police and city lawyers to investigate the situation, according to chief of staff Jason Lamers.
Plano Independent School District Trustee Michael Friedman is the owner of record for the Camp Bowie Boulevard building leased by The Romance Store.
Friedman said Wednesday he regrets the arrangement.
“I humbly made a mistake,” he said.
Friedman said he did not know before the deal that what looks like houses down the street are in fact the Montessori School.
But he admitted he did know a school was nearby.
Friedman said the business location had been vacant for four months, he needed income to pay the mortgage and the new tenants assured him they are not operating a sexually oriented business.
Even so, Friedman said, "I would not do it again."
Freidman said he’s even asked the new tenants to consider moving, but the business people have a lease and they deny doing anything wrong.
“He's making decisions for a lot of people's children in Plano but then couldn't make the right choice here,” Latiolais said.
The neighbors have just begun their fight to close The Romance Store.
“I don't know really if anybody would want to have that next to their house or their school,” Henderson said.