Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza, is helping to bankroll the new town, which is being built 25 miles east of Naples in southwest Florida.
He appeared on The Early Show Friday morning, along with real estate developer Paul Marinelli, to
First reports on the project said that the town would be governed according to strict Catholic ideals. But Monaghan and Marinelli now say those reports are based on misconceptions and that these Catholic ideals will apply only to the new Ave Maria University, where Monaghan will be chancellor.
"Ave Maria town is not strictly a Catholic town," Marinelli told co-anchor Harry Smith. "Ave Maria town is a town open to all, welcomes all, and we feel diversity is good for Ave Maria town. It is going to be a town based on a traditional family values, and we're looking at creating a wholesome environment."
While Marinelli had first intended to block X-rated content from cable TV, he says that has been deemed unconstitutional. But other sexually suggestive material and activities will have to stay outside the town limits.
"It's standard in most of our developments not to have adult bookstores, not to have topless bars, and we will not have them," he said. "We don't believe that they coincide with traditional family values."
Monaghan says the establishment of Ave Maria University will be a dream come true for him. His personal story has been an inspiration to many. Raised in orphanages, he was the founder of the Domino's Pizza chain before deciding to dedicate his life to the beliefs of the church.
"It's always been an interest," he told Smith. "It's just that I haven't lived it like I should. I've got some making up to do."
Both the town of Ave Maria and Ave Maria University, the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in four decades, are set to open next year.