Deer Park adult store sues Babylon Town over its right to remain open

Teasers Adult Video Store in Deer Park on

Teasers Adult Video Store in Deer Park on July 3, 2014. The town condemned the 55 Brook Ave. store in April, citing a missing certificate of occupancy and fire safety violations that the store’s lawyers said could be easily remedied. (Credit: Ed Betz)

The owner of a shuttered Deer Park adult store has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Babylon, claiming the town unlawfully drove the store out of business.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, claims that the town never issued a certificate of occupancy to Teasers as promised in a 1999 court settlement. The town condemned the store at 55 Brook Ave. in April, citing the missing certificate and fire safety violations that the store's lawyers say could be easily remedied.

"Babylon has an unlawful policy of eliminating existing adult businesses located within the geographic borders of the Town of Babylon," the lawsuit says. "Persecution of said businesses is both popular with the Defendant Town of Babylon's citizens and its politicians seeking re-election."

Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein denied a request from the store's lawyers that would have allowed it to reopen immediately and gave the town until July 14 to respond. A previous request for an order from a state judge that would have allowed the store to reopen was also denied.

In a statement emailed by a town spokesman, Town attorney Joseph Wilson wrote that "As has been the case with the Town's previous efforts to ensure that adult entertainment businesses do not infringe on the character of our neighborhoods, this company's request to remain open was similarly denied by the courts."

The lawsuit is seeking a court order to provide a certificate of occupancy and $5 million in compensatory damages along with interest, legal costs and expenses.

The store also has an application pending before the town Zoning Board of Appeals appealing a building inspector's 2013 denial of a building permit, with a decision expected July 17.

Teasers, whose owner, Benjamin Waters, could not be reached for comment, opened in 1999 in an area zoned for industrial use, virtually out of sight at the end of an industrial building now occupied chiefly by auto body shops.

Town officials say the store had a certificate of occupancy to operate as an adult bookstore when it opened but later improperly expanded its operations to include services such as peep shows. The town also argues that the store violated a portion of its code that says adult businesses must be located at least 1,000 feet from homes.

Babylon once had about 20 adult businesses, but Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer, who once called their wares "garbage," has said the town would be better off without any.

In March, the Town forced closure of the Stone Hedge Pub strip club in West Babylon, where it had operated for 37 years.

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