Game center gets green light

Tia Lynn Ivey News

A new game center that will include a pool table, video game consoles, and computers with Internet access is coming to East Washington Street in Madison.

At Monday evening’s meeting, the Madison Mayor and City Council unanimously approved a conditional use to allow for the proposed game center to open at 923 East Washington Street.

Wanda Eubanks appeared before the council to explain her business plan, hoping to provide the community with a fun and safe place for youth and families to relax and spend time together. Eubanks also aims to help underprivileged children access the Internet to help them do their homework.

“The Business purpose is to run a game center, to do a service so people can have a place to relax that is family-friendly and enjoy some time together…I think a game center could help families talk and laugh and have somewhere to go,” wrote Eubanks in her application to the city.

Despite the noble intentions, City Manager David Nunn cautioned the City Council over potential pitfalls of a late-night game center with a pool table. Nunn was wary of the game center being opened until midnight from Thursdays to Saturdays and featuring a pool table.

“Staying open that life with a pool table would, in my opinion, bring in a certain type of group,” said Nunn. “Pool hasn’t been permitted inside the city in a long time, and when it was, there were, at times, problems. Maybe it was the way they were run. Maybe it was the clientele, or maybe it was the part of town…I would just encourage very strict and careful oversight.”

The council unanimously approved the conditional use for Eubanks to operate a game center on the condition that there can be no alcohol sold or consumed on the property. The City’s Planning and Zoning Commission was split on the game center, requiring Chairman Robert Trulock to break a 2-to-2 vote, narrowly passing an approval recommendation.

No one from the public spoke against the game center, but one person filed a public comment with the city prior to the meeting.

“I would just like to say please don’t let the game room on East Washington/Bramblewood be approved,” wrote a representative from Madison Villas, an apartment complex located at 1061 Bramblewood Drive in Madison. “Please, there is already enough fights, loud music, people cutting doughnuts in the parking lot, drag racing all hours or the day and night that goes on at that store…Please don’t let this happen.”

According to the City’s Planning Staff, the game center fits within the larger vision of the Comprehensive Plan. “A game center is determined to be compatible with retail uses because of the manner, character, and frequency of interaction with the shopping public, but requires additional consideration due to the introduction of different parking, waste management, and/or traffic circulation requirements,” wrote City Staff. “The Property is an approximately one acre, 4,000 square foot, multi-unit, retail shopping center containing a variety of land uses with a right-of-way to the north, an attached dwelling development to the east, undeveloped land to the south, and right-of-way to the west. According to the Applicant, the game center would staff one employee working between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 4:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Therefore, it does not appear the game center would be operation during typical retail hours. However, the adjacent convenience store operates during similar hours.”

“We don’t want to set anyone up for failure,” said Madison Mayor Fred Perriman after the vote. “We wish you the best of luck in this.”

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