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The net effect of the text amendment, which is also supported by the Uptowne High Point
Association, a group of business owners on North Main Street between State and Ray avenues, would be to prohibit new video gambling businesses in Uptowne because they don't have enough parking. At the City Council meeting, the groups were represented by Jay Wagner, chairman of the Uptowne High Point
Association and vice chairman of the City Project.
Opposing Wagner was Councilmember Latimer Alexander, who exhibited a newfound purist streak of economic libertarianism, arguing ferociously against the text amendment as something that unfairly singled out video gambling.
Alexander, one of the two at-large councilmembers, did not run for reelection and will be replaced by one of several at-large candidates in December. Wagner filed to run in the increasingly crowded at-large race, but on July 9 changed his filing to run in Ward 4 after incumbent Ward 4 Councilmember A.B. Henley decided not to run for reelection.
Alexander asked whether there had been substantiated reports of police calls or other negative results of video gambling businesses, or if Wagner simply didn't like the businesses. Wagner dodged the question.
Alexander argued that video gambling joints would eventually be part of the North Carolina lottery, so it didn't make sense to try to close them down.
Wagner responded that the City Council has eliminated other types of businesses, including tattoo parlors and pawn shops, from Uptowne, and that prohibiting video gambling was no different. He said video gambling parlors are unlikely to attract the kind of pedestrian traffic the City Project is trying to bring to Uptowne.
Alexander again grilled Wagner on whether or not existing video gambling parlors had caused problems. Wagner replied that Alexander would have to ask the High Point
Police Department that question.
Alexander responded that Wagner, not the Police Department, was trying to limit the businesses.
Alexander said, "Please answer my question."
Wagner, who by this point had veins visibly popping out of his temples, replied, "I just did."
Councilmember Chris Whitley cut in with a motion to send the proposal to the City Council's Planning, Economic Development and Information Technology Committee, which Whitley chairs. Whitley's motion was seconded by Councilmembers Bernita Sims and Jim Corey, and approved unanimously by the City Council.
The City Council also voted unanimously to spend $242,000 in federal drug forfeiture money to buy a Lenco BearCat armored rescue/response vehicle for the Police Department. The vehicle looks like an overweight SUV, not a tank.
At the meeting of the City Council's Finance Committee earlier Monday, High Point
Police Chief Marty Sumner said the armored vehicle will replace a worn-out 1980s model the Police Department now uses for hostage situations, active shooters and high-risk warrant services – executing search warrants for weapons or murder arrest warrants.
Sumner said the Police Department has bought everything else it needs with federally seized drug money, including its new firing range and Tasers for officers.
The City Council also voted 4 to 3 to commission an appraisal of a 10-acre property on Shadybrook Road next to the High Point
Athletic Complex and Miracle Field that the City Council wants to buy from the Guilford County Board of Education. High Point
has offered the school board $30,000 an acre for the property. The school board has demanded $40,000 an acre, based on its own appraisal, which assumes the property could be rezoned for multifamily dwellings, but left the door open to dicker on price.
The new appraisal, which would cost $3,000, would presumably give the City Council more ammunition in its effort to get a lower price from the school board.
Smothers, Henley and Councilmember Foster Douglas voted against authorizing the appraisal. Councilmembers Britt Moore and Mike Pugh were absent for the vote.