Brevard County, Florida - City officials are investigating an alleged swingers club that entices customers to "explore the sensual and sexual side of the lifestyle" in a sleepy neighborhood off Turtle Mound Road.
The Hunt Club of Brevard, a 2,534-square-foot house in the Oak Grove Acres subdivision, on its Web site touts group and private rooms, a stage and dancing pole, swimming pool, buffet-style dining and "The Pink Cauldron", a five-person hot tub.
Prompted by complaints from neighbors, two undercover Melbourne police officers -- one male, one female -- posed as a couple, and toured the house in late-March, Police Chief Don Carey said. Inside, the officers noticed a stripper pole and swinging sex chair, and they learned one of the bedrooms was converted into an "observation room," he said.
No lawbreaking activities were noted, Carey said -- "they were consenting adults doing stuff in private that wasn't criminal" -- and the police investigation was closed with no charges filed.
Regardless, Carey believes The Hunt Club is an illegal establishment that should shut down.
"It's my opinion that the people there are operating a business out of their home. They're violating the zoning in that area, because they're not allowed to have customers in their home," Carey said. "It is a business. If they feel differently, they can challenge us in the courts."
Kirsi Page, one of the operators of The Hunt Club, said there is nothing illegal or improper about the establishment.
The 1.3-acre property is zoned for residential use, said Cindy Dittmer, Melbourne's planning and economic development director. City Attorney Paul Gougelman said officials still are researching "various angles" that could reveal municipal code infractions.
Friday night, nearly two dozen neighbors protested outside the house, said Larry Groves, who lives across the street. One large sign displayed the message "The Hunt Club Not Wanted Here."
Despite their efforts, Groves said more than 20 vehicles pulled into the driveway and parked in the backyard.
"Some of the cars left, and came back with their tags taken off. Some of them didn't care," he said.
Groves said he is worried about crime and sexual predators.
"This is a dead-end cul-de-sac. We don't have any bylaws in the development here that prevents anything like that. It can happen in any neighborhood in Melbourne," he said. "Whether they broke the law or not, the intent is not good for a quiet community. We're trying to protect our investments and our lifestyle and our morality level."
The eight houses on Beth Lane -- including the alleged sex club -- range in market value from $286,000 to $481,000, Brevard County Property Appraiser's Office records show.
The house's rental tenants are Richard Spalding and Kirsi Page.
In an e-mail interview on Monday, Page said The Hunt Club was founded in mid-January, and the organizers do not allow illegal activity, drugs or prostitution.
"Our opinion of our neighbors is that they are bigots. Our sexual practices and preferences are different from what they think is OK, so they are trying to make our lives miserable," Page wrote. "We know that we're OK, and that they are close-minded and full of hate."
Admission at The Hunt Club is advertised as free, although donations are accepted. "Secure parking" is provided by a fenced yard behind the house, and online membership registration is available.
The group seeks investors to ante up $60,000 by mid-June to build a 4,000-square-foot complex with eight bedrooms.
"What you see when you come to a party is a group of adults mingling, flirting, laughing and sometimes dancing. The parties are very quiet, to the point that you cannot hear any noise out on the street in front of our house," Page stated.
"I think that our neighbors' imagination is much more depraved than anything we are actually doing. And I think they've forgotten something important . . . having sex is not illegal," she wrote.
Already this month, this private residence has hosted various sexually themed Friday events -- including a pajama party and a secretary-teacher-schoolgirl soiree, an online schedule indicates. This week, the house plans to host a "Naughty Girls, Ice Cream and High Heels Social."
Page said in a subsequent interview that the club is not a business. Rather, some attendees make voluntary donations to help cover costs for food, towels and sheets, she said.
The tenants rent the home from Pennsylvania resident Penny D. Hanson. In an e-mail interview Monday, she wrote she might hire an attorney to deal with club-related problems.
"I had no idea that my tenants were involved in this until my neighbors brought it to my attention," Hanson wrote. "I will not be renewing their lease in October because of 1) all of the problems they are causing within the neighborhood and 2) the extreme wear and tear these parties are causing on my home and yard."
Melbourne's 39-acre adult-entertainment district lies miles to the south, along North Drive. The city's sole licensed sexually oriented business is Hot Flixx, a Sarno Road adult bookstore.
Sindarellaz, a nude dance cabaret in the Sarno Industrial Park that featured women taking showers onstage, shut down in May 2006 after a police crackdown.
BY RICK NEALE • FLORIDA TODAY