The opening of a Lion's Den adult store on West Fifth Avenue near Grandview Heights has spurred online outrage, though the city's hands are tied.

City leaders have received a few calls from residents "wondering why Grandview allowed (the store's opening) to happen," Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

In fact, Grandview has no governing authority over the property because Fifth Avenue is in the city of Columbus, he said.

The adult store likely is a permitted use under its commercial zoning, DeGraw said.

"I'm sure Columbus would not have allowed the store to open if it wasn't a permitted use," he said.

Grandview administrative assistant Debbie Nicodemus said she received four calls after the "now open" sign appeared Sept. 22 on the building at 1055 W. Fifth Ave., the former location of a bike shop.

Most of the callers thought the store was located in Grandview, she said.

Nicodemus said she let them know otherwise, and she has received no more calls about the store.

The misconception about the store's location was displayed among some of the dozens of comments regarding the store made at the "Grandview Heights (Ohio) U*S*A" Facebook page, created and administered by Grandview City Council member Steve Reynolds.

Reynolds said the page, which is not officially affiliated with the city of Grandview Heights, has evolved since he started it about eight years ago.

"I originally started it, really, as a page for my family and friends," he said. "It's kind of turned into a community page since then. It's a way for people in the Grandview community and surrounding area to sound off and talk to each other about issues in the community."

The Lion's Den issue seemed to dovetail with concern about the condominium project developer Scott Owens has proposed for West First Avenue, Reynolds said.

"They seemed to have morphed together in the conversation" on the Facebook page, he said.

While passions were high over the condo proposal, many of the comments posted on the page regarding the Lion's Den went for the funny bone.

"For a lot of people, it's a topic that lends itself to being the butt of a joke, if you'll pardon the expression," Reynolds said.

DeGraw said he and other city officials were surprised when the Lion's Den opened.

"We didn't have an inkling about it," he said.

Some residents may remember an adult store once sold its wares on Olentangy River Road, Reynolds said.

"I think what happened with that store is that the community didn't come out in sufficient numbers to support it and it ultimately closed," he said. "We'll see if that's what happens with this Lion's Den store."

A Hustler-branded adult store on High Street in Clintonville opened and closed in the span of a few months -- from summer 2012 to February 2013 -- after it met similar outcry in that neighborhood.

Grandview resident Steve Hamm was among those who posted their concerns about the store on the Facebook page.

While he acknowledged the store is not actually in Grandview or a residential area, "it's close enough," he said in an interview.

A real-estate agent, Hamm said having an adult store so close to a residential community is not a selling point.

Adult stores have a right to operate, Hamm said, but he wondered how a brick-and-mortar adult store can thrive when everything it offers is available online.

"I'm not so worried about the impact this store will have on young people in our community because they can find much worse on their computer or smartphone," he said. "But I don't like the idea of having to explain to my 3-, 5-, 7- and 10-year-old what this 'Lion' store is as we drive by."

Pete Potenzini, director of marketing for the Columbus-based chain of stores, said via email that the company is "excited to join such a vibrant and quickly developing business community.

"We're proud of our stores and how we've evolved into a mainstream brand in order to meet the expectations of an increasingly savvy and sophisticated customer base," Potenzini said. "We hope people will visit our store and experience what the new Lion's Den has to offer to women, men and especially couples."

He added that Lion's Den customers must be 18 or older and that the word adult appears nowhere on the store's exterior or signs -- something that could make a parent's job easier.

"I will leave explaining what our building -- or the bars that line Fifth Avenue, Grandview Avenue or any other street in the area -- is to the individual parents," Potenzini said.

The Fifth by Northwest Area Commission makes recommendations to the city of Columbus about development and other issues in the area north of Grandview. A representative of the commission could not be reached for comment.

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