Reidsville, NC City Council on Tuesday turned down a request to permit an internet sweepstakes business to reopen.
Frank Settle, a Stoneville native who now lives in Greensboro, filed a special use application to open an internet sweepstakes café in Unit D of Hunan Plaza, located at 1449 Freeway Drive.
The property is zoned highway business, a district in which the city does permit internet sweepstakes. They’re also allowed in general business zones.
According to Donna Setliff, Reidsville’s community development manager, there was an internet sweepstakes café at the site in the past, but it started as the Reidsville Business Center, offering internet and office-type capabilities. Settle previously owned that entity.
“It brought in the sweepstakes gaming at some point,” she said. “As the use grew, council then adopted regulations dealing with the sweepstakes” – including special use permits.
At that point the Reidsville Business Center no longer conformed with city ordinances, it was grandfathered in and continued operating. However, there is stipulation that if the business closes for six months, the grandfathered status is lost, and the owner would need a special use permit and meet the new regulations.
In this case, water service was cut off in May 2016, indicating that the business has been closed much longer than six months.
“In [the city’s] comprehensive plan, this property is in the Suburban Growth Area, with the objective of providing urban services in an orderly fashion, to increase the development of activity centers and to increase planned unit development,” Setliff said.
She noted that a sweepstakes café must be 1,000 feet from child care, pre-school and school facilities, churches or other sweepstakes cafés. Faith Christian Church at the corner of Front Street and Richardson Drive, is located within 1,000 feet from Hunan Plaza.
The planning board in February considered Settle’s permit request, but determined the request didn’t meet three of four requirements, so it didn’t vote on the overall permit. The board did agree that use as a sweepstakes café in Hunan Plaza did not materially endanger public health or safety. But it found fault that Settle did not address keeping underage people from the property, not selling alcohol, removing tint from windows, and removing interior sight obstructions. The board also could not find that the business would not decrease nearby property values or that it is a public necessity; and that it’s in accordance with the city’s comprehensive plan.
Following Setliff’s council presentation Tuesday, Settle spoke during a public hearing on his request.
He said the church is about 900 feet from the property and asked council to overlook the 1,000-foot buffer requirement. He said window tints and interior sight obstructions would be removed, alcohol has never been served there, and underage people have not been on the premises.
No one else spoke during the public hearing.
The council mirrored the results of the planning board, which in effect killed Settle’s special use permit.
“I don’t want people to think we don’t want internet cafés here, but we have specific areas where they need to be located,” Mayor Jay Donecker said.