Palm Coast to reconsider Internet cafe rules, home-based food businesses
The Palm Coast City Council will reconsider some portions of its proposed regulations for Internet cafe and will also revisit its rejection of home-based cottage food businesses….
The Palm Coast City Council this morning tentatively passed an ordinance limiting the number of Internet cafes in the city to nine, but agreed to reconsider some regulations after hearing complaints today that some elements were too restrictive.
The ordinance was approved by a 4-to-1 vote with Councilman Bill McGuire opposed. City staff has put in a lot of work to address a problem that didn’t exist, McGuire said.
“I just think that we are over-legislating and we are killing an ant with a sledgehammer,” McGuire said.
The ordinance includes a requirement that the businesses have clear glass on at least a portion of their windows that may now be obscured. The ordinance also requires that Internet café operators hire a security guard if they operate from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The glass and security guard requirements concerned Gary Spurio, who said he was the owner of Neptune’s Internet Café. Spurio told the council that that his windows have been frosted since he opened five years ago and he has never had a problem.
“The whole front of my window is glass so am I going to have to replace my glass on the entire front window?” Spurio said.
He also questioned the ordinance’s requirement for a security guard. He said he has plenty of security measures, such as workers who have permits to carry concealed weapons, a drop safe and security cameras. He added he is a retired law enforcement officer.
“Now you are going to mandate a security guard in the evening hours,” he said. “I haven’t had a complaint in five years.”
Allied Veterans runs the only Internet café in the city that’s open for 24 hours a day but it would have to close at 2 a.m. under the proposed ordinance. Adam Regar, an attorney for Allied Veterans, asked that the city review that requirement and consider allowing cafes to remain open 24 hours a day if they agree to additional security measures from 2 a.m. to daybreak. He said that could include hiring an additional security guard or installing a system to regulate when the door opens and closes, such as a buzzer system.
Mayor Jon Netts asked the staff to take another look at the 24-hour requirement and other issues like the glass.
Landon said employees who have a license to carry a concealed gun would not fulfill the requirement of a licensed security guard. A senior planner with the city, Jose Papa, said the ordinance would not require the replacement of all the obscured windows with clear glass at Internet cafes, just a portion of the windows.
In other business, the City Council agreed to reconsider their decision last week not to allow home-based food businesses.
The council decided to schedule the issue for a workshop that would include Cheryl Sheppard and Rick de Yampert, who are seeking to start a home-based cottage food business in the K section of Palm Coast. De Yampert is a staff writer for The Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The couple told the City Council that their request had not received a fair hearing because the council rejected it during a workshop without them being able to address the council.