LUFKIN, Texas (KETK) — The Lufkin City Council approved a zoning ordinance that impacts the operation of game rooms on Tuesday.

The zoning ordinance says that game rooms may operate under a special use permit under the following terms:

  1. All game rooms shall be limited to hours of operation between 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
  2. No game room shall be located within 300 feet of a residential use or a residential district or within 300 feet of a church, synagogue, other house of worship, school, daycare, or hospital or within 2,000 feet of another game room.
  3. Doors must remain unlocked during the hours of operation.

According to the city, the previous ordinance did not address the permitting and operation of game rooms, said City Planner Scott Rayburn.

“Cities and counties throughout Texas have had a substantial increase in game rooms in the last few years,” Rayburn said. “Along with this increase, has come an increase in crime and citizen complaints. There has been a fine line between the use of game rooms strictly for recreation and the use of game rooms for gambling.”

In September, the Lufkin Police Department seized slot machines from six “for-cash” gambling locations, officials said. In the months leading up to the seizure, police said they had responded to the gambling locations 132 times for an armed robbery, drug activity, fights in progress, stolen vehicles, theft, burglary, assaults, terroristic threats and criminal mischief.

The planning and zoning board decided in September that by “limiting game rooms’ use
and location within the city and requiring a special use permit, the city will better be able to prevent many of the adverse effects.”

In Tuesday’s meeting, the city council also approved updates to the city’s animal services ordinance.

The updates include the restriction of selling or giving away animals in public places and the requirement of owners to secure animals when traveling in a truck bed or other “open vehicles.”

According to Animal Services Director Aaron Ramsey, the updates to the existing ordinances include clearer and more concise language to increase the safety of citizens and animals.

“The ordinances are outdated, and the majority are from the 1970s and are no longer up to date with current state law,” Ramsey said. “As times and community attitudes toward animals change, it is essential to bring our code current and outline the basic expectations for our citizens in the care and treatment of animals.”

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