Warner Robins City Council grandfathers 8 businesses with gaming machines, approves survey for new park

chwright@macon.comDecember 17, 2012 

WARNER ROBINS -- Warner Robins City Council voted Monday to allow eight Warner Robins businesses now considered too close to schools and churches to continue operating existing gaming machines.

Council grandfathered the businesses at its last meeting of the year, where council members also gave the go-ahead for plans of a new park and added a bereavement policy for city employees.

City Council updated its gaming machines policy in October, enacting the strictest guidelines allowed by the state and requiring security cameras in businesses that have the machines.

The new ordinance increased the distance requirement from schools to 200 feet, from 100 feet.

Research found eight businesses with the machines that were closer than the new 200 feet requirement, and council opted to allow them to keep operating the machines they have.

“You cannot move your machines back and forth,” said Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins. “If a machine is moved out, you can’t bring it back in.”

At precouncil, council members gave Ocmulgee Engineering permission to continue plans for a new park at Corder Road and Russell Parkway on 31 acres that was a landfill nearly 40 years ago.

Chad Bryant, owner of the firm, told council he researched the property and found it had no history of recognizable contamination. However, he proposed another round of testing.

Council approved an official survey of the land and a firmer design for the park. A drafted drawing Bryant presented to council includes disc golf, a dog park and biking trails.

James Dodson, recreation director, gave council an estimate of $765,000 for the entire park.

Though Mayor Chuck Shaheen said the city has $1.4 million that carried over from last year’s budget, council asked for ways to lower the cost.

Council members also suggested developing the park in stages.

Bryant, Dodson and Shaheen said there are several grants the city can apply for.

“If we could get that number (cost) down with any kind of grants, I would just say (to) do it all,” Shaheen said.

Also Monday, council unanimously approved three days of bereavement leave for any employee whose close family members dies. The time would be separate from the employee’s sick leave.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

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