Planners vote to regulate Internet sweepstakes
LINCOLNTON – Any new Internet sweepstakes businesses in Lincoln County might have to jump through a few extra hoops if commissioners pass regulations later this month.
The county planning board unanimously recommended the regulations at its Monday night meeting.
The proposal would change the county’s development restrictions to include a special category for electronic gaming centers and to regulate those centers.
“It would not (affect existing sweepstakes centers). It would limit the locations where you could open a new one,” Zoning Administrator Randy Hawkins told the board.
The regulations would also not apply to the three pending sweepstakes applications, Hawkins said, because those applications came in before the county approved regulations. That means some centers would have to follow the new regulations while others would not.
The proposed law would also limit sweepstakes to business and industrial zones and could not operate within 200 feet of a residential property or 500 feet of a place of worship, elementary or secondary school, day care center, public park or public library.
Hours would be limited to 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. The doors must remain unlocked and gaming terminals must be visible from the outside.
Hawkins said the county has not had any reported problems with the three or four existing sweepstakes centers, and the sheriff’s department has not received a single call.
Commissioners are set to vote on the regulation at their Aug. 20 meeting, but Commissioner Carrol Mitchem made it clear Monday night that he’ll vote against the change.
“We’re regulating this, regulating that,” Mitchem said. “I’m tired of regulations.”
Caroline Brown, owner of Sugar Daddy’s in Lincolnton, echoed that sentiment.
“I’ve been at Sugar Daddy’s for three years and had no break-ins,” she said.
Robby Gunn, who said he owns centers in several counties, expressed concern about some of the special requirements.
“I don’t know of any other business that you can tell them what to do with their windows,” he said. The proposed amendment does not allow sweepstakes centers to hang curtains or blinds.
“You have (sweepstakes) in operations now. You’ve had no complaints, and you won’t have any,” Brown said.
At Monday’s meeting, the board also:
• Entered a closed session to discuss leasing a site for the public works and parks and recreation departments. After the closed session, commissioners voted to lease a facility on Startown Road in Lincolnton, with an option to purchase after Jan. 1, 2013. The county will pay $2,800 a month, and 50 percent of the payments can be applied to a purchase in the future. The Lincoln County fire marshall closed the departments’ former offices in June after he found what might be lead-based paint and asbestos in flooring tiles.
• Extended the start date for the planned Hydac industry construction in the Airlee Business Park in Denver. The county originally agreed to give the company tax incentives tied to an expected start in September 2011, but the date was pushed back. Hydac has scheduled a groundbreaking for 3 p.m. Aug. 15.
• Heard a rezoning request for the Bridgewater development on N.C. 150. Crosland representative Austin Williams said existing residential zoning makes selling the property more difficult. Business and industrial zoning, he said, would make potential buyers feel more comfortable about their investment.
• Voted to grant Sabo USA $5,441.80 per year over five years if the company agrees to invest at least $2 million in an expansion. The company also must provide at least 12 new jobs within two years paying at least $400 per week. Sabo, located in the Lincoln County Industrial Park in Lincolnton, manufactures parts for the automotive industry. Construction on the expansion should begin by November.
County seeks feedback on N.C. 150 development
Lincoln County planners will hold a community involvement meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 16 to hear public comments and share information about a proposed business expansion on N.C. 150.
LandMark Self Storage is requesting the rezoning of 1.2 acres to permit a storage area for boats and recreational vehicles as part of an existing self-storage facility. The property is located about 250 feet west of N.C. 150, just south of Quinlan Trail.
The meeting takes place at LandMark Self Storage at 5485 N.C. 150 E., Lincolnton.