Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.

ALACHUA - Unlike other regional billboards of similar ilk, the new jumbo sign here is bare of women. But residents are getting the message nonetheless - an adult store intends to open in town despite attempts to keep it out.

The full-sized billboard appeared last week along U.S. 441, east of Interstate 75. It faces east, toward the town, and advertises the Adult World Super Store. Among the wares noted on the advertisement are videos, toys, novelties and a video arcade with 19 movie booths.

"It's a sign of the times, I guess," said Kathy Jarvis, owner the nearby Western Tepee shop. "Nobody has said anything about the billboard, though my daughter called last night and said, 'What are they talking about, Mom.' "

Meanwhile, on Friday, attorneys for the city and the business were at the federal courthouse in Gainesville arguing over the city's actions in connection with the business, which wants to open in an existing building on U.S. 441, west of I-75.

In July, J&W Investments South of Daytona Beach filed suit against the city, contending that the materials it plans to sell are constitutionally protected speech and expression and that city zoning and ordinances must allow a place for this type of business.

"This law is unconstitutional in all its applications," Gainesville lawyer Gary Edinger, who is representing the company, told the judge. "There simply are no places in the entire city where adult entertainment businesses can locate."

The company, in a case filed earlier this month, also is seeking an injunction that would bar the city from enforcing a moratorium that the business says denies its free speech rights

Court records state city officials enacted a moratorium on Aug. 20 that halts the acceptance of applications for and issuance of land use, building and development permits and adult entertainment licenses for adult entertainment establishments for 180 days.

Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul did not issue a decision.

Lawyer Robert Rush, who is representing the city, said, "We think the court should deny the injunction at this point."

Rush also said the business did not initially indicate what it would be selling in the city when it first obtained an occupational license the city later revoked.

"They weren't honest with us from the beginning," he said.

Edinger said Monday the store is fully stocked and ready to open if the legalities are worked out. The windows of the store are frosted so materials inside cannot be seen from the outside, he said.

The billboard states the business's location. Edinger said he believes the owner probably signed a contract for the billboard in advance anticipating the store would be open by now.

"But as a practical matter, it doesn't mean the store is opening today or tomorrow," Edinger said. "We have confidence we will do well with the judge."

While lots of residents have noticed the billboard, it does not seem to be raising much of a ruckus. Several wondered whether the billboard meant all of the legalities had been settled and the store had opened.

City Commissioner Tamara Robbins said the billboard could have been worse, citing the signs along I-75 promoting Cafe Risque in Micanopy.

"In all honesty, I have to say it is a lot less offensive than I think they probably could have been," she said. "I look at the Micanopy place with big, giant, 6-foot letters that say 'We Bare All' and I find that much more offensive."