Swingers club run by FMU professor shut down in Florence - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Swingers club run by FMU professor shut down in Florence

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FLORENCE, S.C. -

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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