DeKALB – Applicants to open a small gaming facility on South Fourth Street won Planning and Zoning Commission approval Wednesday.
By a 3-2 vote, commissioners approved a special use permit for Brad Coppens to operate Maisy’s, a video gambling café at 850-854 S. Fourth St., DeKalb. Planning and zoning staff had recommended approval.
Commissioners Max Maxwell, Vicki Buckley and Katharina Barbe voted to approve the measure. Commissioners David Castro and Christina Doe opposed it. Commissioners Deborah Nier and Jerry Wright were absent.
The matter now goes to the DeKalb City Council.
Both previously and on Wednesday, residents voiced opposition to the establishment. Its location – across the street from DeKalb School District 428 headquarters and two day care facilities, and not far from Founders Elementary School – seemed especially problematic.
On July 5, for example, commission Chairwoman Christina Doe expressed concern that Maisy’s would be open, and that beer and wine might be sold while schoolchildren are nearby.
Jamie Craven, superintendent of DeKalb schools, spoke in opposition on Wednesday.
“We are concerned about the proximity that this facility will have with Founders school,” Craven said. “There is high foot traffic, however, from our students. That is concerning … the fact that it’s across the street from the education center where there are two facilities that have day care.”
Also opposed is former mayor Bessie Chronopoulos, who said approval of Maisy’s signified a lack of a cohesive plan for the Fourth Street corridor.
“South Fourth Street is a corridor into the city,” Chronopoulos said. “We really need to look at that entire area as a whole. It is a little gold mine. It has a lot of activity, with the sport center, and the school and a variety of very sound establishments. It’s time to look at that area in a serious economic development fashion.”
On Wednesday, Coppens presented revised plans that, he said, address concerns. Specifically, there will be no signage declaring video gaming or gambling, hours of operations will be reduced, and there will be no alcohol advertising or happy hours.
He said snacks will be available, the clientele tends to be older than 50 with discretionary income, and the establishment only contains five video gaming terminals.
At most, he said, only five or six people, and perhaps five or six cars, would ever be at Maisy’s at any one time.
He added that like similar establishments around the area, very little alcohol is sold.
“I anticipate selling less than 20 beers a day,” Coppens said. “I will actually lose money on alcohol.”