Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

July 12, 2012

Video lottery restrictions

Time to speak out is today

— — Area residents interested in a proposed ordinance that would restrict where video lottery establishments can operate in Princeton should voice their opinions on the topic during a public hearing later today.

The Princeton Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance today at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. The proposal would ban the operation of video lottery machines within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, any establishment already possessing a West Virginia Alcohol and Beverage Control License, and in some residential zones. It’s a logical measure that merits further discussion.

Current state code requires that video lottery establishments be at least 300 feet from churches and schools, according to Princeton Code Enforcement Director Bill Buzzo. The proposed ordinance would increase that limit to 1,000 feet and adds residential dwellings and other existing video lottery establishments. Existing video lottery establishments would be grandfathered in under the proposed ordinance, and would not have to relocate or close their doors.

If this ordinance sounds familiar, it’s because similar video lottery restrictions were adopted by the neighboring Bluefield Board of Directors a year ago.

There are presently six video lottery establishments operating within the city limits of Princeton, and city officials fear that additional applications for video lottery permits will be forthcoming if efforts aren’t made to restrict the development of such establishments near schools, churches and residential dwellings.

The planning commission can only make a recommendation on whether or not to proceed with the proposed ordinance. If the commission does decide to proceed with the ordinance, it would then be forwarded to the city council, which can either approve or reject the plan.

City officials are correct in looking to control, and restrict, such developments. A proliferation of video lottery establishments can negatively impact the character of the city and its neighborhoods. And parents should be afforded a say as to whether such establishments should be constructed near their schools and homes.

While it can be argued that such an ordinance is a deterrent to future business growth in Princeton, it can also be argued that the city has a responsibility to protect families, children and churches from an environment that promotes gambling and alcohol.

Residents who have opinions regarding the ordinance — whether pro or con— should consider attendance at this public hearing as mandatory. This is your chance to speak out. Please considering doing so.

 

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