08/23/12 — County Internet cafe law approved

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County Internet cafe law approved

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 23, 2012 1:46 PM

Wayne County now has an ordinance regulating the location and operation of Internet or electronic gaming operations. Actually, a second vote will be required since the decision made at last Tuesday's meeting was not unanimous.

The ordinance was approved last Tuesday morning, but only after several minutes of paper shuffling followed by two confusing shows of barely discernible hand votes by Wayne County commissioners.

Even then it was unclear who had voted how, prompting County Manager Lee Smith to ask commissioners to hold up their hands so that the outcome could be properly recorded.

"Four voted for, so it passed," Smith said.

Commissioner Steve Keen made the motion to adopt the ordinance. Keen and Commissioners Bud Gray, J.D. Evans, and Ray Mayo voted for approval. Chairman John Bell and Commissioner Sandra McCullen voted no.

Commissioner Jack Best did not vote and in accordance with county policy he was counted as having voted for the motion.

The ordinance was a carryover from the board's Aug. 7 session, when a public hearing was held on the proposal. After the hearing, the board agreed with Keen's suggestion to table action until Tuesday's session to allow time to discuss the few comments made during the hearing.

Smith's comments Tuesday that the item was next on the agenda were greeted with silence other than the sound of commissioners shuffling through papers on their desk.

"No discussion about it?" Bell said.

After several more moments of silence, Keen asked Smith for "clarity" if the ordinance was an action item.

"It is however you want to do it," Bell said.

Keen asked County Planner Connie Price how the cafes were operating in the county without the ordinance.

"The ones that are operating are out in the county where we do not have zoning, do not regulate land use," he said. "So by not having this ordinance in place it also allows those businesses to operate as a legal business.

"There is nothing to prevent someone though from going across the street or next door and opening up a similar business. What this would do is put in place spacing between these types of businesses and similar businesses and dwellings, churches, schools, parks and so forth. In places around the county where we have zoning around schools this would not allow them to go there because they are not listed in our zoning ordinances as a permitted use."

The ordinance changes the setback from 300 feet to 1,000 feet,

Commissioners also had wanted the closing time changed to 11 p.m., he said.

"What is your recommendation?" Keen said.

"Staff recommends you approve it as was presented at the public hearing," Price said, which would impose the 11 p.m. curfew.

Keen made the motion to adopt the ordinance that eventually was approved following the confusing votes.

Existing operations will have 12 months to become compliant with the new rules.

State-sponsored lotteries are exempt, and the ordinance does not apply to any of the businesses inside a municipality.

Alcohol sales or consumption is prohibited at the cafes, and the county fire marshal will be required to establish an occupancy limit prior to submission of the operation's permit application.

The ordinance sets a maximum daily cash payout of $600. Any amount above that would have to be paid by check or credit.