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Council OKs VFW sweepstakes; attorney questions permit issue

Halifax Town Council on Wednesday night approved new amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance and a special use permit for VFW Post #8243 and L. A. Bingo Inc. to operate a sweepstakes.

The action followed two joint public hearings held by council and the Halifax Planning Commission in Halifax Town Hall.

Only one person spoke during the public hearings, and council acted on recommendations from the planning commission when approving the new amendments and special use permit. 

Virginia Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars Attorney Trey Adams from McGuire Woods law firm in Richmond spoke during the special use permit hearing. 

Adams questioned the town’s authority to require the VFW post to buy a business license or pay a business, professional and occupational license tax to the town in order to receive a sweepstakes special use permit.  

He argued none of the other 19 posts in the commonwealth have been asked to pay such a tax or get a business license to operate the sweepstakes, adding those fees are covered at the state level.

Council members agreed to discuss this issue with their attorney.

Following adoption of the new zoning amendments to the zoning ordinance, a C-1 commercial zoning district now allows amusement centers, banquet and reception halls, bowling alleys and dance halls to operate with a special use permit.

Following the joint hearings, council adjourned for the evening, and the planning commission continued its monthly meeting.

Planners welcomed the commission’s newest addition, Neville Kidd.  

Kidd worked as an international banker traveling Europe and the Middle East until he was called to the ministry. 

He has resided in the town since 1997.

“I consider it a privilege and an honor to be on this team. I solicit your help, your guidance and your direction and hope that in due course, I will be an asset to this team,” Kidd said after being welcomed.

In other business, Town Manager Carl Espy updated the planning commission on the Banister River Gateway Project and the Halifax Downtown Revitalization/Halifax Telecommunications Project. 

Espy told planners the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded funding to the town for the Banister River Gateway Project. 

Comcast contractors should complete overhead wire removal by Labor Day, and Dominion Power will begin removing poles as part of the telecommunications project under way in Halifax.

The planning commission also elected Ron Reter as planning commission chair, a position held by Phil Hammond who resigned earlier this month from the planning commission.