SC swingers club shut down for violating ordinance

The Florence County Planning Department closed down a
Florence swingers club after learning that it was violating a county
ordinance.

The Beaver Lodge on Hazel Drive was issued a “stop-work” order by the
Planning Dept. after determining the business was less than 1000 ft.
from both a church and a residential community. 

Jay Graham with the planning department said the business did not have building or zoning permits either.

A concerned neighbor heard the Beaver Lodge was going to be a
swingers bar and contacted the county's planning department to voice her
concern.

Susan Gause, owner of Beads and Bling rents out space in Korner Cuts,
located right next to the Beaver Lodge, and she said she was appalled
that a sexually oriented business could be located in such a safe
neighborhood.

“There were no signs to let us know that was going on because this is
a daytime business and to be something that's going on at night, we
aren't here but the neighbors are here and the children are still here
playing in the yards, people are going to church,” said Gause.  “But to
be this close….it is very distressing…very distressing.”

Although the establishment was issued a “stop-work” notice, several
neighbors on Hazel Dr. remain concerned and have started a petition to
get the building re-zoned as a residential lot, so something like this
won't happen again.

“It doesn't make you feel like your kids are safe–something like
that comes into the neighborhood and it puts a bad taste in your mouth
for you and your neighbors and your children,” said Cliffton Lee.

While looking into the establishment, Graham said they found the
Beaver Lodge's website, which promoted itself as an “adult entertainment
club” where the Benevolent Order Of Beavers (BOOB) could meet.

“Our focus is a little different in that we have certain beliefs and
we like to congregate together,” said Robert Carr, owner of the Beaver
Lodge.

  “It's hard to come up with a one or two word description of what we
are; some have described it as a swingers club.  We are a social
organization that does believe in the erotic aesthetic.”

According to Carr, who is also chemistry professor with Francis
Marion University, he was under the impression that the location was in
an unzoned area of the county and he did not know permits were needed.

Carr was leasing the building from Palmetto Commercial Real Estate; they released the following statement:

“Both Palmetto Commercial Real Estate and the building owner
sincerely regret leasing 1611 Hazel Drive to The Benevolent Order of
Beavers. We were misled as to the intended use for the property. The
president of the organization compared their club to an “Elks” type of
club, which is obviously a misleading comparison.  Had we known their
intended use, we would not have assisted in this lease. The lease
agreement, however, clearly states that no use may be conducted in the
premises that is contrary to any municipal law or ordinance. According
to Florence County Planning, the Beavers' use of the premises is in
direct violation of the Florence County Code of Ordinances.”

Graham said while he was looking at the website on Tuesday, it was
being changed as he was on the site.  As he watched, he said the
sexually explicit material was taken down the it was changed from an
“adult entertainment club” to a “social and fraternal membership club.”

Carr said he “reformatted” the club so it was within county guidelines.

“We're not a sexually oriented business, we're not going to be
attracting some kind of deviating element to the community; all members
are invitation only,” said Carr.  “I think the county has taken a very
hostile attitude on this and has prejudged us based on a picture and a
few sentences on the website,”

Carr re-filed the paperwork to re-open the Beaver Lodge as a social and fraternal membership club on Tuesday. 

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