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updated: 11/20/2013 9:10 AM

Bartlett says no to video gambling in Town Center

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After multiple discussions, the Bartlett village board unanimously rejected a proposal Tuesday for a new video gambling bar that was hoping to open in the Bartlett Town Center.

The owners of Elsie's Place wanted to open a location with 11 seats and five video gambling stations at 225 S. Main St. in a former deli unit. The biggest concern residents expressed with Elsie's was its proposed location beneath the Bartlett Town Center Lofts, where at least 16 units are occupied.

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Some trustees also questioned the owners about the quality of the food that would be served, which was set to be mostly prepared sandwiches, food on rollers and microwaved items, along with beer and wine.

The village's plan commission also unanimously rejected Elsie's Place at a meeting last month.

Trustee T.L. Arends said that in all the years she has served on the board, she can't remember ever seeing a proposal fail unanimously at the plan commission level. She said she respects the work the commission does, noting that they hold a public hearing and feed the information to the village board.

"Out of respect for their decision and also because I do agree with them that ... it does not promote morals or the general welfare of persons residing or working in the vicinity, for those reasons I will be voting no," she said.

Trustee Michael Camerer agreed that the board should listen to the plan commission because it is a voice for the public and has done its due diligence on the matter.

Trustee Greg Martin said he would like the board to start looking into the possibility of creating a square-footage requirement for each video gambling machine -- a suggestion that has been brought up.

"We need to get on the ball because it's just going to help us make these decisions later," he said. "Bartlett is not going to be a little Las Vegas as long as I'm here."

Trustee Aaron Reinke said the fact the village is still grappling with the issue has been heard by people from other communities, who have asked him if Bartlett is having a problem with video gambling. He said the village has to do something to "really get a hold" of the video gambling bar proposals that keep coming in.

"I'm all for supporting business, bringing businesses to town, but I just don't think that this is the right location for that use," he said in response to the Elsie's Place proposal.

Village President Kevin Wallace said he would like the village to look at the possibility of placing a higher fee on each video gambling machine.

"It could, potentially, be a way to sway some of the smaller square-footage places from popping up," he said.

Arends agreed but said the village should be conscious not to penalize the businesses that already have video gambling.

A final vote on the proposal for Maxine's, another new video gambling bar that wants to move into the Brewster Creek Shopping Center, will likely occur next month.

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