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Pembroke takes legal steps to try to block store's opening

PEMBROKE - The town of Pembroke is taking legal action to try to prevent the planned Monday opening of Trevor's Toybox, a shop selectmen contend is an adult entertainment store.

The store is located on Main Street in Suncook village.

After meeting with the town's attorney, Walter Mitchell, the Pembroke Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday to file an injunction in Merrimack County Superior Court to prevent the store from opening next week.

The controversy arose after a store window display featuring adult items appeared two weeks ago. Several residents complained to selectmen at their March 18 meeting that the business went against the business district's historical character.

Code enforcement officer Everett Hodge issued the business' owner, former Selectman Larry Preston, with a notice of violation, demanding that the display be taken down and that various zoning and land use approvals be met. The letter gave a deadline of 9 a.m. March 22 for the display to be taken down, which was not met by Preston.

Adult entertainment stores are only allowed in two areas of town: in the north near the Concord and Loudon border, and in a space near Route 106, though only under a special zoning exemption in the later area.

Preston has contended that the description of the Main Street shop as an adult entertainment store is based on a misunderstanding. The store front on Main Street, he argues, will sell leather products such as is seen on the display's mannequins. Adult toys will be sold by Trevor's Toybox, but only through a separate online store.

A certificate of formation filed with the Secretary of State's Office on Jan. 8 and signed by Preston does identifies the primary nature and purpose of the business as "retail sales - adult toys," though this might be inclusive of the website.

No matter what is to be found on Trevor's Toybox's shelves, however, the town contends that the business has still failed to meet a number of other paperwork and approval requirements with the town, such as for the conversion of the business from an office space to a retail front.

Town Administrator David Jodoin noted at the selectmen's meeting that a certificate of occupancy would be necessary for the business to operate and that this would likely not be issued while the case is in court.

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