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How many game rooms are too much for the City of Vandalia? That was a question indirectly introduced to the Vandalia City Council Monday night, in which a Class J liquor license was not approved for an applicant.
The decision to reject an application for a new gaming facility was rejected following the approval to move the number of gaming licenses from four to five.
City Attorney Ryan Connor explained to the council that although it may not have necessarily been present council members, but a previous council had limit the number of Class J Liquor Licenses (specifically for gaming parlors) at four.
“If you vote for this (application) you are going to open this floodgate, and you will open it significantly,” Connor told the council. “You are going to have to be ready for more license applications to come, and then, if you do not approve all of them, you have to accept the legal liability of why you denied some while approving others.”
However Vandalia resident Mike Wehrle, who owned the property where the proposed business would locate told the council that recently the site had lost its tenant.
“This will affect my bottom line and I will be hurt. Approving the gaming license will help my business,” he said.
Randy Meyer, another local businessman, told the council that if they were going to approve the proposed license that he would like to be reconsidered for his application.
However Dorothy Crawford told the council Meyers’ application was for a gas station, and not for a stand-alone parlor. She also said that the council should not worry about whether adding a license would hurt the other establishments in town as that capitalism would decide the matter.
The co-applicant, Lester Dretzer II, president of Kretz Inc., told the council that he would employ approximately five persons at the business, and that the number of gaming parlors in many of his other locations did not affect the amount of business each received, and that all were doing well.
Alderman Andy Lester told those gathered that if the council appoved the application, he did not know how the council could limit future endeavors.
“It’s going to come to some point where enough is enough. At one point we decided on four. I don’t see anything positive for Vandalia to have unlimited numbers of these establishments,” Lester said.
However Bret Brosman argued in favor of the license.
“The city will gain tax revenue from this. We will be filling a vacant space. The business will be providing jobs. If it is so saturated where it is not profitable, some will close,” he said.
Russ Stunkel said he would like to hear 24-year council member Mike Hubler’s opinion on the matter.
“More plays into this than just a license,” Hubler answered. “What if someone looking to locate a large business or factory comes in and says we have a bar or gaming parlor on every corner? There are plenty of places to gamble if someone wants to lose their money. I don’t think we need anymore establishments.”
Wehrle then suggested the converse could be true, saying that someone could come into town and think the opposite.
As the discussion continued, Alderman Joel Rebbe said that he did not “feel right” to deny someone the right to open a business in the city. “I want to give anyone the opportunity to come into town to start a business that wants to.”
Stunkel then questioned Police Chief Jeff Ray if there were any problems at any other similar businesses in town, which Ray replied there were not.
After further discussion, the time came to vote on the application, which was rejected by a 4-3 vote, with Brosman, Crawford, and Rebbe casting the yes votes.
After the vote was announced, Crawford stood up and left the meeting.
In other business, the council:
- adopted an ordinance amending salaries for the May 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021 fiscal year;
- adopted an ordinance calling for the sale of excess city property of a fork lift from the street department and a 2000 Ford Cutaway from the cemetery;
- approved a resolution calling for the sale of surplus real estate owned by the city. Addresses of said property were at 1026 . St. Louis Avenue, 414 W. Jefferson, 610 S. Sixth St., 119 E. Jackson;
- approved a resolution for the closure of Old Route 140 from Third to Seventh Street between 9 and 10 a.m., Saturday, May 8, for a Fayette County Bicentennial parade, sponsored by the Fayette County Museum;
- heard Mayor Ricky Gottman praise the Street Department workers for clearing the city roadways following the snow storm last week, and
- heard Gottman announce that the city wide clean-up will be held May 10-14 for Doty Sanitation Customers.