Hart County Board of Commissioners
November 2nd, 2000
The Hart County Board of Commissioners met November 2nd, 2000 at 10:00 a.m. in the Hart County Administrative & Emergency Services Center.
Chairman Joel Moore presided with Commissioners Ken Brown, Don Burdick and R. C. Oglesby in attendance.
Call to Order, Welcome, Moment of Silence
Chairman Moore called the meeting to order, welcomed those in attendance and called for a moment of silence.
He announced the sole purpose of the meeting was to review the status and determine the status of applications for video arcade license. He reminded those in attendance this was not a public hearing, they will hear from people directly involved in the process.
Chairman Moore remarked that Hart County has been faced with a tremendous growth in the video gaming industry. He said it has been a great concern and has attempted to deal in terms of responding to our constituents and also be in compliance with State laws. He remarked the board has wrestled with the issue for approximately one year. They met with elected representatives and discussed the matter and the need for them to undertake a greater role statewide to regulate the industry. However, the State of Georgia primarily regulates the industry. Therefore, to protect the interest of the county the board adopted the Bona Fide Coin Operated Ordinance August 23rd, 2000.
Chairman Moore reported that there are twelve locations classified as arcade establishments. Six of the establishments that are in operation are in complete compliance of the county ordinance. The Code Enforcement Officer will make periodic inspections to make sure they continue to be in compliance.
County Administrator's Report
County Administrator Gary Cobb submitted a spreadsheet of the applications received for the video arcade license. He reported he has evaluated each establishment, still receiving plat survey information. All but two establishments were open at the time the ordinance was adopted, which was Borderline Trading Post, Bail & Tackle and Max Saver. However, those establishments have made a sufficient investment. He said none of the applicants comply with the county's distance requirements. Also, shown on the spreadsheet the establishment owner or employer that was charged with violation of Georgia Law.
Chairman Moore said of the twelve applicants nine are still in the process of resolving state charges for illegally paying game winnings in cash.
County Attorney Walter Gordon advised the board to withhold judgement until the criminal cases are decided in court. He quoted the Magna Carta, which adopted the principle "presumption of innocence" until charges are proven. Therefore, pending criminal charges by the GBI by either employee or owners of the establishments.
Attorney Gordon advised the board they have several options.
1. Proceed with the process of allowing applicants to advertise, etc and then consider previous criminal background and deny or grant based on findings.
2. Hold hearings that involve criminal charges, which is not the proper course of action to take.
3. Take no action on the nine applicants (grant nor deny until criminal charges reach a final resolution) and allow entities to continue to operate as they currently operate and their applications will be held in a pending status pending the outcome of the criminal charges. He suggested that once the criminal process is complete then the board could come back and resolve the issues.
Chairman Moore stated it would be totally inappropriate for the board to interject in the criminal process.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to defer any action on the nine establishments which are involved in the state's criminal process, put them in a "pending status" until charges have been resolved. The nine establishments are Silver Dollar, State Line Lottery, The Stor II, Your Place My Place, Big Oaks Auto, 29 Warehouse Lottery, Treasure Bay, Dad's II and Max Saver. Commissioner Burdick provided a second to the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Attorney Gordon remarked that the second legal issue is the distance requirements. He said based on the analysis presented by the County Administrator that none of the applicant's meets the distance requirements as set forth in the ordinance. He added that existing establishments have a right for a variance waived since they were in business or made a substantial investment prior to the adoption of the ordinance. If not granted it would potentially expose taxpayers of Hart County to a significant expenditure. All future applicants will have to comply with the distance requirements.
Commissioner Oglesby entered a motion to grant a variance regarding the distance requirements for the existing businesses that have applied for an arcade license. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Chairman Moore commented that while the board agreed to grant a variance for the existing businesses that each establishment realizes the impact they have on the community. He asked them to exercise prudence and good judgement in the operation of their business to insure the life long residents, who have made a substantial investment is not disturbed at two or three in the morning.
Commissioner Burdick reminded those in attendance that no license has been approved until all the necessary procedures have been followed.
Commissioner Burdick entered a motion to adjourn the meeting. Commissioner Brown provided a second to the motion. The motion carried unanimously.
Joel Moore, Chairman Lawana Kahn, County Clerk