07/31/12 — Public not yet talking about new cafe rules

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Public not yet talking about new cafe rules

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 31, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County's plans to regulate Internet or sweepstakes cafes thus far seem to have failed to generate any interest from the businesses or the community in general.

Other than one sweepstakes cafe owner who attended a county Planning Board meeting, County Planner Connie Price said no one has contacted his office about the proposal.

People are either unaware of the plan, he said, or waiting to speak their piece at a public hearing to be held Aug. 7 at 9:15 a.m. in the Wayne County commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

The hearing is required before any action can be taken. After the hearing, commissioners could approve the zoning amendment as written, ask for changes, or not act at all.

State-approved lotteries are excluded from the ordinance.

Currently, the county has nothing in place governing the location and operation of Internet cafes. If an ordinance is approved, existing operations would have 12 months to become compliant with the new rules -- in some cases meaning they could have to shut down or relocate.

The proposed ordinance would be effective countywide, but would not apply to businesses inside any of the county's municipalities.

Price said he was aware of only two of the businesses in the county. One on U.S. 70 East has closed, he said. The other is located in the Mar-Mac community, Price said.

It is not surprising that there are not many Internet sweepstakes businesses in rural parts of the county, Price said. The owners prefer to be inside a municipality where the population is more concentrated, he said.

The advantage to being located outside of a municipality is that the county does not have the same authority to levy the fees that municipalities enjoy, Price said.

Under the proposal the cafes would have to close by 11 p.m., and could not be closer than 1,000 feet to homes, churches and schools. Alcohol sales or consumption at the sites would be prohibited as well.

The maximum daily cash payout could not exceed $600 and any amount above that would have to be paid by check or credit.

Electronic gaming operation would be a permitted use in community shopping, light industry or height-restricted districts, as well as in all commercial operations in unzoned areas. It would not be a permitted use in village district zones.

Up to two of the Internet machines would be permissible in a business and would not require a setback requirement.