Town board members and the planning department are struggling to amend a town ordinance to specify where tattoo parlors, sexually oriented businesses and electronic gaming centers can locate within the town limits … and where they can’t.
The proposed amendment before the board would require buffers of varying distances between the businesses and established churches, schools, child care facilities, public parks, licensed childcare facilities and residential zones.
Earlier the board had changed another ordinance that declared tattoo and body piercing establishments, sexually oriented businesses and electronic gaming operations to be permitted uses by right instead of as a special exception—but maintaining the existing set of conditions for each—specifying distances each must be from churches, synagogues and other similarly protected uses as well as from each other.
That change means that a request for zoning to allow the businesses under study would be ruled on, not by the board of adjustment as has been the process in the past, but by the town board.
A review of the town’s ordinances relating to tattoo and body piercing establishments, sexually-oriented businesses and electronic gaming operations was sought after the town staff, reviewing existing conditions relating to permits for those businesses, found no physical location in town where any of them could be located.
The planning department advised the board that with regulations so stringent they prevented these businesses from locating here, the town could be subject to legal action.
In response to a request from the town board, planners developed maps outlining the buffer areas around all protected uses and that exercise demonstrated the way in which the businesses under review could be shut out. Planners then recommended reducing the width of some buffers to allow some spaces where tattoo parlors and others could locate.
At last week’s board meeting, a public hearing was held on the proposed ordinance amendment. No one from the public spoke. Commissioners discussed the amendment, then continued the hearing until Aug. 6. at the suggestion of Commissioner Cindy Sheldon.
Commissioner Sheldon said she favors adding residential properties to the list of locations to be buffered, but she thinks the suggested 100 foot buffer should be lengthened. She asked that the planning department look at what the effect would be of extended length requirements ranging from 150 feet to 300 feet.
She said she was also concerned about the location of electronic gaming businesses and the traffic and parking problems they sometimes create.
In some instances the proposed amendment shows slight reductions in buffer widths for some of the businesses under study in order to preserve some locations where they would be allowed.
Sorensen also reminded the board that the zoning scene will be changing constantly as a new school or daycare goes in or a church is built. Existing businesses would not be affected, but the buffer requirement would likely reduce the size of the area available to the specific business uses now being studied.
At present Fuquay-Varina has one tattoo parlor and three electronic gaming establishments. The town has no sexually oriented businesses.