LAKEWOOD - With no guarantee of a favorable judgement, the owner of Endless Love has ended her fight with Lakewood.
On Thursday, Jill Laemmerhirt, owner of Endless Love, and John Gullo, Laemmerhirt's attorney, reached an agreement with the village of Lakewood and closed Endless Love on Saturday.
In June, court proceedings were started by the village against Laemmerhirt for opening an adult novelty business in Lakewood. The business was located at 165 E. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood. The charges against Laemmerhirt alleged that she didn't get proper permission for the location or approval for a business sign, and was operating in violation of a moratorium.
In April, Laemmerhirt proposed opening a sex-related business in the America's Mattress Plaza, 305 E. Fairmount Ave. The village's Planning Board approved the proposal, but the owner of the plaza then decided not to lease retail space to Laemmerhirt for the business.
Then in May, the Lakewood Village Board established a moratorium on issuing special-use permits to adult novelty businesses because village officials wanted to address these types of businesses in the village's zoning laws before allowing one. The moratorium is supposed to last for about six months while village officials address sex-related businesses in its zoning.
According to Gullo, Lyle Hajdu, Busti town justice, adjourned the zoning enforcement action Thursday for six months on the condition that Laemmerhirt closed the adult novelty store.
"Winning in court and going out of business anyway due to the cost of litigation, is no victory."
Endless Love owner Jill Laemmerhirt
"At the end of six months, the case will be dismissed," Gullo said in a statement to The Post-Journal on Friday. "No party admitted wrongdoing or mistake in this matter. This resolution was agreed to by all parties."
Gullo stated Laemmerhirt agreed to the mutual resolution for a number of reasons.
"First and foremost, my client never intended to be involved in a court case. She reasonably believed that she had all the appropriate permissions because the Lakewood zoning code was silent as to her type of business, and her location is squarely within the business district," Gullo stated. "My client simply wanted to conduct business and was mortified to be charged with a violation of this sort. She wanted to be a good corporate citizen, and still does."
Gullo stated the second reason for the agreement is because litigation costs are very high.
"Taxpayers pay for the village attorney, but my client must bear all of her legal expense herself," Gullo stated. "While we were very hopeful of winning the case, there is no guarantee of victory. That cost and risk is just too high for a new business to bear. Winning in court and going out of business anyway due to the cost of litigation, is no victory."
Gullo said Laemmerhirt will continue her business through the Internet, and look for another brick-and-mortar location.
"(Laemmerhirt) will await the new Lakewood zoning restrictions and the end of the moratorium on her type of business before deciding to locate in the village again," Gullo stated.
In July, David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, told The Post-Journal there are no laws specifically addressing adult novelty stores in the village's zoning code. However, there is a clause stating if a type of business is not specifically mentioned in the zoning, the owner must acquire a special-use permit from village officials before opening.
"In the zoning laws, any use not listed by right in the zoning, like an adult novelty store, must obtain a special-use permit," Wordelmann said.