County approves sweepstakes buffers

Dec. 10, 2012 @ 09:50 PM

County Commissioners on Monday put the finishing touches on a new ordinance that establishes a 500-foot buffer around future Internet sweepstakes shops.

The ordinance passed the board unanimously, and had previously won City Council approval. It thus will govern sweepstakes operations throughout the county.

The new buffer requires the 500-foot separation, as measured property line to property line, from other sweepstakes shops, schools, homes, churches, daycares and parks.

It also restricts sweepstakes shops to property zoned for commercial or light-industrial development.

Planners have said the combination of restrictions should confine new sweepstakes shops mostly to the areas around RTP and Treyburn, the southern reaches of N.C. 55 and an assortment of small properties scattered across the county.

The property line to property line measurement “makes the spacing as wide as possible,” and therefore is “more protective” than a building-to-building rule, Commissioner Ellen Reckhow said.

Reckhow’s comment answered a question from local activist Allan Lang.

Monday’s vote was one of five different proposals to change Durham’s land-use ordinance. All passed unanimously and mirrored previous City Council votes.

The ordinance changes ran the gamut from one that loosened existing building-space limits at paintball facilities to one that loosened somewhat limits on lot size in RTP.

City/County Planning Director Steve Medlin said further rules changes for RTP are in store for next year as officials adjust the ordinance to allow the park to develop in line with its new long-term master plan.

Monday’s meeting was the first business meeting for the commissioners since gaining two new members, Fred Foster and Wendy Jacobs, and a new lineup of officers.

Foster ran the meeting as chairman and encountered little trouble in getting through an agenda that also included several ceremonial items. They included the reading of resolutions honoring downtown business owners Audrey and Sam Sellars and the late environmentalist Hildegard Ryals.

Officials did make a significant change to the seating chart for board meetings, moving County Manager Mike Ruffin and County Attorney Lowell Siler from their previous positions at either end of the dias to seats in the middle flanking the new chairman.

The front-and-center seating of senior staffers at televised meetings is a departure for the county but has been the City Council’s usual practice under Mayor Bill Bell.