Auto-body shop, adult-type business file separate suits against Crestwood

Jim Butler Chevrolet, Johhny Vegas sue city

By BURKE WASSON

Crestwood officials recently learned that the city is being sued by not only an adult-oriented business, but also an auto-body shop that was denied a permit in December by aldermen.

Jim Butler Chevrolet and Schaefer Auto-Body Centers Inc. filed suit against the city Jan. 10 in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

A motion hearing was set for 9 a.m. Tuesday — after the Call went to press.

That legal battle is on top of another suit filed against the city Jan. 14 by Johnny Vegas Inc. in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Attorneys for Johnny Vegas are seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions as well as damages for the alleged violation of the company’s First, Fifth and 14th amendment rights in its efforts to open a business at 9177 Watson Road.

Crestwood City Administrator Frank Myers said last week that the city never denied the business, but simply asked for more information.

Johnny Vegas representatives applied for a business license and a commercial-occupancy permit in November and paid $562 in fees, according to the city. On Dec. 4, city officials requested more information to determine if the store is a sexually oriented business.

In 2006, Crestwood aldermen approved an ordinance regulating such businesses in the city. If more than 25 percent of a company’s merchandise is sexually oriented material, it must pay a greater fee for a business license as well as face additional background checks and signage requirements.

Johnny Vegas representatives stated in their lawsuit that while the business sells “videotapes, magazines, DVDs and books which depict or describe nude or partially clothed persons and/or sexual activity,” its merchandise also includes a “substantial assortment” of items not classified as “adult items” like swimwear, lingerie, shoes, oils and candles.

The company’s lawsuit also states, “The amount of stock in trade sold by plaintiff, or stocked for sale, will be less than the amounts required to designate plaintiff’s business as either an adult media store or a sex shop.”

In addition, the suit states, “Plaintiff further seeks a declaratory judgment specifically finding any regulations or ordinances designed to prohibit plaintiff from operating a business in a properly zoned area of Crestwood unconstitutional.”

As for the Jim Butler Chevrolet suit, aldermen voted 6-2 Dec. 11 to reject a conditional-use permit for Schaefer Auto-Body Centers to operate at Jim Butler Chevrolet’s location at 9900 Watson Road because of nearby residents’ concerns over paint fumes that would allegedly create more air pollution in the area.

Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel and Ward 4 Alderman Steve Nieder supported the conditional-use permit for Schaefer Auto Body.

While Jim Butler Chevrolet has moved new-vehicle operations to its Gravois Bluffs location, it still operates its used-vehicle center in Crestwood.

Schaefer Auto Body and Jim Butler Chevrolet co-owner Brad Sowers had reached an agreement for Schaefer Auto Body to lease the Crestwood location.