Gaming criteria approved

Published 8:51 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

JACKSON – The Northampton County Board of Commissioners have approved the second reading of amendments to the county’s Zoning Ordinance regarding electronic gaming establishments (Internet cafes).

On Monday, the commissioners approved the second reading following Commissioner Chester Deloatch’s recusal from the decision during the first reading at the last meeting.

At the May 7th meeting Deloatch initially voiced objection to the amendments.

“I would be effected by ‘f’,” said Deloatch, referring to a requirement in one of the amendments that required electronic gaming establishments not to be located within a quarter mile of any building used as a dwelling (residence).

“You personally?” asked Planning and Zoning Director William Flynn.

“Me, personally,” Deloatch said.

Commission Chairperson Virginia Spruill questioned what Deloatch was trying to say.

Deloatch explained there was rental property within a quarter mile to a relative’s home on Highway 305.

“I don’t want it denied (because of part 2f of the amendment),” he said.

“So you want it to go through,” Spruill said.

“This is a business perspective, but where’s the protection for the citizens that live there,” asked County Manager Wayne Jenkins.

Attorney Charles Vaughan noted the conflict of interest on Deloatch’s part and recommended the board recuse him from the decision.

“He stated he has a conflict,” Vaughan said.

The board agreed and upon taking a vote to recuse Deloatch he voiced objection to the recusal. The motion passed and the board went on to approve the amendments.

Deloatch’s recusal required a second reading of the amendments.

The two amendments provide for a definition of electronic gaming establishments and requires the establishments be allowed as a special use located in the county’s Highway Business Zoning districts.

As a special use in those Highway Business districts, the applicant’s proposal would go before the Northampton County Planning Board for a recommendation and that decision along with the proposal, would then be presented to the Board of Commissioners and a public hearing would be held.

During the public hearing the commissioners will be allowed to add additional conditions they see necessary, such as hours of operation, number of machines etc.

The amendments also established requirements for electronic gaming establishments, including they cannot be located within one-half of a mile of a regular place of worship, public or private school, public park or playground, athletic field, recreational area commonly used by a group of homeowners, daycare centers, businesses or facilities oriented toward children and any residential zoning district.

At their Monday meeting, the commissioners recused Deloatch once again from the decision and voted 4-0 to accept the amendments to the Northampton County Zoning Ordinance.