A proposal that would have restricted electronic gaming operations in Statesville was hastily pulled off the city council's Nov. 16 agenda after City Attorney Ed Gaines expressed concerns.
The last-minute action also probably saved council members from a long evening, as dozens of gaming room enthusiasts had gathered at City Hall to express their concerns over the proposed restrictions.
Electronic gaming operations - in which participants purchase items such as phone cards, play computer games of chance and then have the game room operator "buy back minutes" from them - have sprung up statewide. Five are now in Statesville.
The General Assembly may consider statewide regulations next year limited such game rooms, which some contend operate through a loophole in state laws aimed at outlawing electronic betting machines that pay cash prizes.
But some local municipalities have decided not to wait. For example, the town of Wilkesboro limits operations to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and bars the sale or possession of alcoholic beverages, Planning Commissioner David Currier said.
Statesville's proposal was less restrictive, Currier said. It recommended 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Sunday as operating hours; minimum parking standards; a limit on the number of machines; some separation distances between gaming operations; and limits on the zoning districts where they are permitted.
The proposal, previously approved by the city planning board, did not add special restrictions on alcohol.
At their pre-agenda meeting, some council members questioned whether the city should regulate the facilities, especially since the state may consider rules next year.
It is unclear whether the measure will be reconsidered by the council later.
In other news:
The city council's Quality of Life Committee completed interviews with four architectural firms competing to design a renovation of Statesville City Hall.
Earlier this year, the council authorized renovation of the 120-year-old structure at Front and Center streets. A preliminary budget of $250,000 has been set for the project. The city expects to select an architect this month.
The council approved a request from Fire Chief David Bullins to replace fire equipment on a 25-year schedule, instead of 30 years.
The council awarded a $519,300 contract to Locke-Lane Construction of Statesville for phase two of the Museum Greenway. The project includes 2.2 miles of paved trail from Free Nancy Avenue along 4th Creek to Broad Street.