Council says no to Internet cafe zoning
Thomasville City Council upheld a decision by the Planning and Zoning Board on Monday night to deny a rezoning request that could have brought a Internet cafe to a residential neighborhood.
Council unanimously voted to deny the request by Johnsontown Station LLC to rezone 1069 and 1071 Johnsontown Road from a C-1 neighborhood commercial to a C-2 highway commercial.
Kelly Clinard, a Johnsontown Station LLC representative, told council the rezoning would make it possible to sell the properties to an organization wanting to open an Internet cafe.
"We got this property a couple of years ago because the former owner was indebted to us," Clinard said. "We've since been trying to help the property and the area, and we've struggled to find something."
Following a public hearing in which several residents from the area opposed the rezoning, Councilwoman Pat Shelton made a motion to support the Planning and Zoning Board's initial decision to deny the request.
"This particular road is no longer a major arterial road around the city," said Shelton. "Now we have Baptist Children's Home Road and that is the major artery through the city. I do not think this particular property qualifies for C-2. I think it falls rightly so under C-1."
Residents from the neighborhood said the introduction of an Internet cafe ultimately would lead to more traffic and a higher risk of crime.
"You have a good ordinance," Bobby Edwards, of 1061 Johnsontown Road, said. "C-1 is to support residential areas, not attract major traffic, which is what a C-2 would do. Everything around this is residential. We have a lot of traffic in the area as is."
Roger Singletary, who lives at 1078 Johnsontown Road, said Internet cafes promote gambling which can lead to an addiction that destroys families.
"I terribly oppose this," said Singletary. "If you stand in my front door you can see this establishment."
Resident Sam Rabon works with the Davidson County Sheriff's Office and said Internet cafes are high target areas for criminals due to the large amount of cash on hand.
"They have to because of the nature of the business," Rabon said. "The bad guys know that. I've worked robberies with $8, $10 $12,000 dollars. You can't go into a mom and pop convenience store and get that kind of money. A lot of times you can't go to the bank and get that kind of money. I'm sympathetic to the problems, but at the same time we don't have to desecrate our neighborhood so they can make money."
Rabon said the people interested in establishing an Internet cafe can do so in other places in Thomasville that already are properly zoned for such a business.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.