Council says ‘no’ to another 8-liner gaming site

Ward 1 Councilwoman Virginia Jordan

The Beaumont City Council unanimously denied a Specific Use Permit (SUP) that would allow gaming machines at a convenience store in a Neighborhood Commercial (NC) District on Sept. 19, but Ward 1 Councilwoman Virginia Jordan says the machines are already there.

Bryan’s Food Stop submitted an application for a SUP to allow a gaming site at the convenience store at 190 N. 23rd St. in Beaumont on July 28. Maria Paul Hernandez wrote a letter to council requesting the SUP, and the application was signed by Ma-Imelda Hernandez and Judyth Magana. Maria Hernandez stated in the letter that she, her daughter Ma-Imelda and her son-in-law Saloman Magana run the family-owned business since taking over five years ago and that the store itself has been in business over 40 years. 

She indicated the city had visited the store and told her family they were not allowed to operate the 8-liner machines that they already had there without a permit from the city. She stated they had complied with state and federal regulations, and expressed that she was “embarrassed” that they had failed to comply with Beaumont’s rules but were unaware of city ordinances on gaming. She asserted that the operators would not be paying out cash and would adhere to all city regulations pertaining to running a gaming site.

The Planning Commission and City Manager Kyle Hayes recommended denial of the SUP, saying there was not adequate parking, and the City Traffic Division expressed concern over traffic congestion that could result from the addition of a gaming site at the location.

And “that gaming site would not be compatible with surrounding neighborhood uses,” according to the City Council packet Sept. 19.

When originally considering a gaming ordinance for the city of Beaumont, officers with the Beaumont Police Department warned that police are often called to game rooms for crimes ranging from drug deals to robbery, all the way up to murder.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Jordan agreed that the gaming site had no business doing business in the mostly residential neighborhood, as there are homes in close proximity. She said she had visited the store, and was concerned that there were already coin-operated machines at the business.

“This isn’t anything that’s going to enhance the neighborhood, and there is a surrounding neighborhood,” Jordan commented. “I’ve noticed in visiting this site that machines are already in place. … The machines are there. There’s no room in that store for any others, I don’t believe.”

Following a short discussion, the council decided to heed the recommendations of the Planning committee and the city manager. They voted against approval of the SUP. Therefore, the store is not allowed to operate the 8-liners already lining a wall of the establishment.

City of Beaumont Director of Planning and Community Development Chris Boone said if the store is operating the 8-liner machines, they are violating two separate city ordinances. Because the location they are in is zoned NC, they first must get the SUP they recently requested, which council denied. Then, they would have to apply as a gaming site, as well.

The Examiner visited the convenience store Sept. 20, and the 8-liners Jordan said she saw were indeed present at the store. However, they were all shut down, their black screens simply casting reflections of the store aisles and passersby.

Saloman Magana manned the counter. He told The Examiner they shut down the machines when the city told the operators they were in violation of city ordinances. And they have remained off.

“We are trying to get the permit from the city, but they are moving really slowly,” Magana said before being told the permit had been denied.

When asked if they would re-apply for the SUP, Magana said they would. Until they get the required permits, they must keep the machines off or face fines from the city.