Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 13, 2012

Unified on video lottery: Princeton Planning Commission votes to increase restrictions on establishments in city limits

PRINCETON — It appeared as though the Princeton Planning Commission was preaching to the choir Thursday evening after voting unanimously to recommend an amendment to the city zoning ordinance that would increase the existing restrictions on video lottery establishments inside city limits.

All five of the speakers who spoke to the issue prior to the commission’s vote were in favor of a petition to amend the ordinance to add more restrictions to video lottery establishments in order to “protect the character of the city and its neighborhoods including school children, worshipers and those in their own homes from the unreasonable proliferation of video lottery establishments.”

The mayor and vice mayor, Patricia Wilson and Marshall Litton respectively, were among the speakers who spoke in favor of the proposed amendment. Wilson said emphatically that she “did not want to see (video lottery) in our city,” and Litton said that increasing the proximity of a video lottery establishment to schools and churches from 300 feet to 1,000 feet “will go a long way,” to rectify the situation.

Joe Besenyei, a member of a church located on East Main Street in Princeton said the number of “gambling establishments” in the city will increase unless some changes are made to the zoning ordinance. “Right now, there’s six clubs in the town,” he said. “I think you need to be aware of the cost in human misery and the cost to the city may outweigh what you receive in B&O taxes.”

Ernest Bishop, a member of the Church of Christ in Princeton said he expressed concerns to city council at the earlier meeting when the matter was discussed. “I begged them to consider what they were doing at that last meeting,” Bishop said. “Now, that’s like shutting the barn door after the horse got out. Thank you for listening, but I think it’s too late. We don’t need that (video lottery establishment) at the door to our church.”

Jan Farley spoke as both a city resident and on behalf of the Mercer County Landlords’ Association. “We want to be on record as being opposed to these gambling joints,” she said.

Wilson asked if the proposed amendment would include restrictions that would keep video lottery places away from daycare centers. Paul Cassell, Princeton city attorney said the commission could insert daycare facilities into the portion dealing with schools.

Vic Allen, commission chair called for a motion on the addition.

Ted Boggess moved, John Hickman seconded and the motion carried without opposition. Allen then called for a motion on the petition to amend the zoning ordinance. Boggess made the motion, Hickman seconded and the motion carried unanimously.

After the meeting, Cassell said there is not enough time to place the matter on the city council’s agenda for its meeting on Monday, but he said the matter will be taken up in council as soon as possible.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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