A week after its opposition to a West Chester sex shop spawned an outpouring of support for the business, a nearby Catholic church and school has withdrawn its appeal of the zoning permit for the Feminique Boutique.
In a two-page letter to Michael A. Perrone, the borough zoning officer, the pastor of St. Agnes Church stated that the church had decided to focus its efforts on amending the borough code to prevent similar "adult" establishments in the future.
Jill McDevitt, the 22-year-old owner of the store, said yesterday that she was "initially relieved" when she received the letter. But she said one sentence gave her pause:
"While we continue to believe that there are legal issues regarding the issuance of, and compliance with, the referenced permit, we also believe that our energies, resources and efforts at this point are better utilized in continuing our dialogue with the borough on amendment of the ordinance. . .."
McDevitt said she believes she has complied fully with the zoning requirements and hopes that the church is not looking for another way to shut her down.
She said she will continue to obtain signatures of support on a petition she started after she received the notice of appeal on Monday.
Since then, she has received hundreds of supportive phone calls and e-mails - including one from France and one from China - donations for legal expenses, and multiple interview requests.
Shannon Royer, a GOP candidate for the state House's 156th District who has spoken against the store, said he heard McDevitt on the Michael Smerconish radio show.
"She seems like a great person; hats off to anyone who's opening a small business in this economy," Royer said. "I just have a problem with the location so close to a school."
The church school is on the 200 block of West Gay Street, and the store is on the 100 block of Church Street, which is perpendicular to Gay Street.
Royer, who said he's heard dozens of complaints about the shop's location while campaigning, called the publicity McDevitt generated "unintended consequences."
"She is possibly the luckiest small business owner in West Chester," he said.
A woman who answered the church phone yesterday said the pastor was not available and was not commenting on the zoning issue.