Wood County residents critical of video lottery variance

Waverly Road resident Andrea Stewart appeared before the Wood County Commission on Monday to speak against the commission recently granting a variance for the establishment of a video lottery business on Waverly Road. Other nearby residents appeared to speak against the business which they feel will have a negative impact on the area. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

WILLIAMSTOWN — A group of residents wants the Wood County Commission to look into whether the decision to grant a variance for a property owner outside Williamstown to operate a video lottery establishment can be reversed.

Four residents who live in Williamstown and around the proposed site outside of the city approached the commission Monday to see if they would consider reversing their previous decision.

On Feb. 11, the commission voted 2-1 to grant a variance to Hi-Lad Inc. of Charleston for property along Waverly Road with Commissioners Jimmy Colombo and Robert Tebay voting in favor and Commission President Blair Couch voting against.

The property is owned by Hi-Lad Inc. The company is planning to move video lottery machines from a location in Charleston to the location outside of Williamstown.

The residents cited safety, economic and other concerns they feel should be addressed.

Helen Robinson, a resident of Williamstown, said many people in Williamstown did not want another gambling facility, citing the local planning commission recently turned one down within the city.

“We already have seven … and we certainly don’t want one outside of town,” she said.

The residents cited concerns about drinking on the property and people possibly driving drunk along Waverly Road which they described as being a “dangerous road.”

Caryl Stines, a resident of Waverly Road who lives close to the proposed site, said the road has mostly residential properties along it. Waverly Road is a two-lane road where joggers, bicyclists and others use it for different activities along a straight stretch of the road where Stines lives.

There is a curve in the road where the business is being proposed to be built and people regularly cross the double line to handle the curve.

“It is an unsafe location and always has been,” she said. “Accidents do happen there and will happen even more if you allow this business to be built there.”

She said people have driven drunk along this road in the past and she is afraid it will increase.

The residents who are within 1,000-feet of the property were not notified of the previous hearing. Stines said if she had known about the previous hearing she would have come then and spoken against it.

“I am asking you reconsider and reverse your previous decision,” she said.

Andrea Stewart lives close to the property said she was not notified of the previous hearing and would have spoken against it if she knew. She is concerned about the safety of her own children and others in the area. The site is less than 400 feet from where her kids play.

Stewart talked how dangerous it already is just for them to pull out of their driveway and feels increased traffic for this business will cause additional problems. She feels the business will have a negative impact on the value of their property which they had spent a lot to improve and it will contribute to more crime locally.

“No one wants a gambling facility built in their side yard, including ourselves,” Stewart said. “Gambling is a horrible addiction that does not need another home in our town.”

The residents said the remoteness of the site will be favorable to people wanting to hide their gambling from others as opposed to the more easily viewed establishments in Williamstown.

Couch said the state has ordinances in place which have the ultimate authority. The commission’s variance was the first step and the people wanting to build this facility still have to get state approval. He said there have been times when the commission granted a variance and the state still denied it.

Stewart brought up whether it could be built so close to an interstate bridge which Couch responded that could be a reason the state may deny it.

Currently, the county ordinance does not require people to be notified, but officials said they may take another look at that in regards to future matters.

Couch said the commission would ask their legal counsel, Wood County Prosecutor Pat Lefebure, to see if they have the ability to reconsider the matter, because of “new evidence and new concerns.”

If something comes up in the future regarding this matter, the residents present will be contacted, Couch said.

“That is all we ask,” Stewart replied.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com


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