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Internet Café moratorium in place

JACKSON — A county-wide moratorium on Internet Sweepstakes Cafes is now solidified.

On Monday, a public hearing was held to take comments on the moratorium, one that places a hold on issuing permits for Internet Sweepstake Cafes as well as the expansion of such businesses.

In a board meeting in May, the commissioners passed the first reading of the ordinance in a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Chester Deloatch objecting.

“As you recall this came to the board’s attention several weeks back; it was in the best interest of the county, by a board vote, to evoke a moratorium ordinance,” said County Manager Wayne Jenkins.

Jenkins said research by County Attorney Charles Vaughan revealed a public hearing is required for a moratorium exceeding 61 days.

The moratorium ordinance “shall be enforced from and after its passage and approval until the Northampton County Planning Board, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners and the North Carolina General Assembly have had the opportunity to study the impact and legality of electronic gaming establishments and to amend the Northampton County Zoning Ordinance so as to regulate electronic gaming establishments.”

No comments were offered at the public hearing.

The county currently has one internet cafe located near the U.S. 158/258 intersection at the Northampton/Hertford County line near Murfreesboro.

Rich Square also has an internet cafe within its city limits, making the town responsible for regulation.

Commissioner Robert Carter offered a motion to pass the moratorium ordinance; Commission Vice Chair James Hester seconded the motion. The measure passed in a 4-0 vote with Deloatch absent from the meeting.

Commission Chair Fannie Greene said she, along with Carter, had just attended Assembly Day and Internet Sweepstakes Cafes were an issue all over the state.

“And we were assured this matter would be regulated in the upcoming session,” she said.

Jenkins said each of the county’s municipalities have been notified and now that the board has adopted the moratorium they’ll be provided a copy of the ordinance.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill asked if any of the town’s have taken action on the matter.

Jenkins said Garysburg has adopted an ordinance and Rich Square is considering a measure.

Woodland also adopted a moratorium as well.

Recently, Murfreesboro adopted an Internet Sweepstakes Cafe moratorium.