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Coventry closes door to new gaming establishments

2/16/2017 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — Gaming operations failed to win over Coventry Township officials.

Through the years, the Board of Trustees has put restrictions on game rooms in the community. Now, these types of establishments can no longer operate in Coventry.

At the Feb. 9 meeting, the board unanimously agreed to delete “arcades and amusement establishments” as a conditional use from the township zoning code, which ensures no new game rooms will be able to operate in the township.

Before the vote was taken, the board held a public hearing, during which Zoning Inspector George Beckham discussed the matter.

“Most residents want us to attract a higher level of business,” he explained. “Most businesses do not want them. They prey on poor people.”

People often start gambling and can’t stop, he said.

“They attract drunkenness and crime,” the zoning inspector said. “We spend legal fees on these, also.”

Springfield also does not allow any more game rooms, he added.

Beckham said the Summit County Planning Commission and the township Zoning Commission approved the deletion from the zoning code prior to the issue coming before the board.

He explained the four arcade establishments now in Coventry are grandfathered in and can remain at their locations.

Beckham said these types of businesses do not leave a community often.

“There [is] a lot of money involved in these things,” he said.

The meeting included a public hearing on the issue, and Peggy Reed, of the Arlington Neighborhood Association, spoke during the public hearing in favor of the zoning code change.

“We are trying to ensure quality businesses are going in,” she said.

The public hearing additionally focused on revising the code concerning the definition of a sign. Beckham said the revision was to specifically address the use of murals on businesses, which may be considered signs if they are intended to advertise a business.

The board approved a new definition of a sign.

Beckham said the public hearing also was for trustees to consider zoning text changes to more clearly define outside dining and entertainment.

The trustees agreed to table the issue for more discussion.

Beckham explained the intent is to keep the existing code but simplify it to make it more understandable.

Additionally at the regular meeting, the board authorized Beckham to raze the fire-damaged house and small garage at 301 Hyacinth Ave.

Beckham said the owner indicated several times he would repair the home involved in a fire in 2014. The trustees granted the owner at the Dec. 8, 2016, meeting 60 days to reach certain benchmarks for repairs.

“Nothing has occurred and the house is not even secure,” he said.

The board approved having Gangle Excavating demolish the house and garage for a cost of $4,590.

In other business:

• Concerning the Road Department, the board authorized the township to be included in the Summit County Engineer’s Office’s 2017 regional pavement maintenance program and agreed to request the assistance of the Summit County Engineer’s Office in the future replacement of a culvert located in the canal system along Long Lake Boulevard and Vaughn Trail.

• Trustee Richard Kutuchief announced an open meeting will soon be held to gather feedback concerning a possible change in Coventry’s zoning designation.

• The board also heard from Erin Croghan, who asked the township to consider allowing the placement of her “community cupboards” on township-owned property. She explained her project would allow Portage Lakes residents the opportunity to donate nonperishable food and other items. Croghan said someone in need in the community is welcome to come and take from the cupboard. [For more on Croghan, see “Community Cupboards to help those in need” in the Feb. 10, 2017, issue or visit the archives at www.akron.com.]

The trustees said they will consider her request and discuss it a future meeting.

The next trustees’ meeting is set for March 9 at 7 p.m. at Coventry Town Hall, 68 Portage Lakes Drive.

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