Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

December 4, 2012

Council rejects dance hall changes

Approves Pactiv tax abatement contract

By Janet Jacobs
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — The Corsicana City Council did not approve a change to the city’s dance hall ordinance that would have restricted businesses like VG’s or Star Hall from having events when the group met in regular session Tuesday night.

The city’s planning and zoning and police departments, had recommended changes to the ordinance that would have made the owners responsible for seeing that no minors drink during events, and requiring renters to get security and permits for events.

The intention was to eliminate trouble before it started at these businesses, although there are only a small handful of businesses that would have been affected by the ordinance, including VG’s and Star Hall, but also possibly Martin’s Music Hall, the MLK Center and Mombassa’s.

Owners had objected on the basis that it would make it too expensive for people to rent the halls, and any infraction might put them at risk of losing their licenses. After their objections at the Nov. 20 meeting, the city came back and said that issues like whether or not to have security or whether or not to require the owner to be present at all events could be left to the discretion of the police or p&z manager.

“It’s too restrictive,” Gaby Neason told the council Tuesday. “It’s just targeted at running us out of business. We’re not going to be able to operate under this ordinance.”

The ordinance did not apply to businesses such as fraternal or veterans organizations, such as the I.O.O.F. or V.F.W. or to local hotels, which also host similar events.

Also expressing concerns about the changes were Van Neason, co-owner of VG’s; Sam Martin, owner of Martin’s Music Hall; and Michael Crawford, the attorney representing the Neasons, who called the ordinance too narrow, arguing that it was “selective enforcement.”

Police Chief Randy Bratton said the family-run business has been cooperating with police to keep the lid on problems, but this proposed change would have formalized rules. The dance hall ordinance was put in place in 2008.

In the end, though, none of the council members moved to approve the proposed changes and it died for lack of a motion.

In other business, the council did take the following actions:

• Approved the tax abatement contract with Pactiv, under which the company agrees to invest $45.5 million in expanding the plant and hire about 200 new employees in exchange for a 10-year graduated tax abatement on that part of the plant equivalent to five years’ worth of city property taxes.

• Agreed to close a 10-foot underground utility easement running parallel to Mountain Drive to allow for the new Whataburger just off U.S. 287.

• Accepted the donation of two empty lots in the 1000 block of East G.W. Jackson Avenue.

• Agreed to a title conveyance on .242 acres that had been settled 10 years earlier, but which the city hadn’t signed at the time.

• Approved George Burrell to the Civil Service Commission to replace Jon Ketcham.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com