At tonight’s meeting, the West Chester Township Board of Trustees officially approved previously proposed text amendments that prohibit Internet sweepstakes establishments (otherwise known as Internet cafes) from setting up in the township.
The amendments also further define the proximity to the street and the type of signage that would be permitted by sexually-oriented businesses electing to move into West Chester.
“It is right for us to look at ways to keep the township vibrant,” trustee George Lang said during the first vote on the amendments in June. “All of these businesses are constitutionally protected and we just want eliminate the impact that these businesses can have on our community.”
The board’s vote Tuesday was the final one needed to pass the text amendments. The actual effective date will be in 30 days.
When the text amendments were first presented to the board during a work session May 24, attorney Scott D. Phillips of the Frost Brown Todd law firm recommended that the board vote to prohibit any Internet sweepstakes establishments in West Chester.
Phillips described Internet cafes (not to be confused with coffee shops or restaurants that provide the Internet) with the “look and the feel of a small casino.”
The attorney said that customers, at a particular Internet sweepstakes establishment, were able to purchase a phone card worth $5 to $50. Then those customers could swipe those cards at computer terminals to play games, such as poker, slot-machine type gaming and tic-tac-toe.
“If you win, the balance goes up and if you lose the balance goes down,” Phillips said.
Phillips described the use of phone cards as a way these companies are trying to avoid gambling laws.
Another part of the zoning text amendments also concerned sexually-oriented businesses.
Currently, the law permits these types of businesses to be located in a defined a geographic area, which is south of Port Union Railto Road and west of State Route 747.
This proposed amendment will make those types of businesses to be located at least 150 feet back from the main street and put defined the type of signage that will be permitted for these business.
BOARD CHANGES MEETING SCHEDULE: The board of trustees also decided to adjust its meeting schedule. Previous meetings scheduled for Nov. 8, Nov. 22, Dec. 13 and Dec. 27 have been canceled. Due to the election taking place and people having to vote at Township Hall, the board will be unable to meet Nov. 8. The board is now scheduled to meet Nov. 15, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20.