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Residents opposed to video lottery in stores

February 15, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SUMMIT POINT, W.Va. - Proposals to allow video lottery machines at two small grocery stores in Jefferson County - one on the Blue Ridge Mountain and one in Summit Point - has generated opposition from area residents.

Both proposals go before the Jefferson County Zoning Board of Appeals for consideration Thursday afternoon.

In Summit Point, Kery Fries said Mack Hooe wants to open a grocery store in a building Fries owns along Summit Point Road and install five state-regulated video lottery machines in the establishment.

Fries said the grocery store cannot generate enough money to succeed and the lottery machines - which are similar to slot machines at Charles Town Races & Slots - are needed to supplement revenue.

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About 260 Summit Point residents have signed a petition in opposition to Fries' proposal, and residents say it is not appropriate to have the machines in Summit Point.

"I think it attracts the wrong kind of people for a small community like this," local resident Pat Tribble said.

Tribble said residents are concerned about how problems associated with the games would be handled in town, particularly since there is little police presence there.

Town resident Lynn Welsh said she walked through Summit Point a little more than a month ago to talk to citizens about Fries' proposal and collect signatures for the petition, which she plans to present at Thursday's meeting.

"I talked to a lot of people, and they were almost unanimously against it," Welsh said.

Welsh said town residents do not want gambling in Summit Point because it is a "very clean town." With a large number of people in town opposing the machines, Welsh said the only people who will play them will be people from out of town and that is not something residents want.

Fries said he thinks people do not understand what he is proposing.

Fries said the grocery store will not have anything like a bar or live music, but will have an area separated from the rest of the store where people can play the machines.

Fries said most people who play the machines will be more than 50 years old and do not cause problems.

"If they give it a chance, they will be pleased with it in the end," Fries said.

Fries is seeking a nonconforming use designation to allow Hooe to have the video lottery machines. In order to obtain the permission, Fries said he must comply with state regulations such as the requirement that any video lottery machine establishment be 300 feet from any church or school.

Manny Desai said there is opposition as well to his proposal to put five video lottery machines in the Weber's Market store he owns on Mission Road on the Blue Ridge Mountain.

Like Fries, Desai said he does not think people understand his proposal.

Desai is applying for a nonconforming use designation to allow the addition of a restaurant and bar with video lottery machines. Desai said his restaurant will be an attractive place for families. Desai said he will serve alcohol, but limit it to two servings. Desai said he may only offer beer because he thinks offering liquor could lead to problems.

"It's not like a liquor bar," Desai said.

Local resident Tony Rosati said some people were concerned about Desai's proposal following a vague announcement about the plan in a newspaper that seemed to suggest the business would be a place to primarily drink and gamble.

The zoning board of appeals will meet at 3 p.m. in the lower level of the Charles Town Library at 200 E. Washington St.

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