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City extends moratorium on Internet gaming
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The Hinesville City Council approved extending by six months a temporary moratorium on issuing business licenses to businesses, like Internet cafes, that engage in Internet gaming or sweepstakes. These activities involve electronic machines and devices, Internet services and telephone cards, city officials said.

The council initially adopted a temporary six-month moratorium March 17. Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards said the new moratorium would have expired Sept. 17, had it not passed. The moratorium now will be extended until March 17, 2012.

A Senate bill that would have regulated Internet gaming and sweepstakes in Georgia was vetoed earlier this year by Gov. Nathan Deal, who supports the regulation of gambling but thought the proposed law wasn’t strict enough, according to Edwards.

“I am vetoing this legislation because I do not believe SB 19 provides sufficient clarity or enforcement powers to shut down Internet cafes, and I also find that the modifications to the current Class A and Class B classifications of coin-operated machines could lead to unintended consequences,” Deal stated, according to “I look forward to signing legislation in the near future that would more forcefully address these significant concerns. Accordingly, I veto SB 19.”

In other city business:

• The council approved a request from Serenity House Chief Executive and Finance Officers Deidre and Charles Tift to extend by 12 months a special five-month exception to operate their counseling business at 210 Garden Circle.

The business had violated a city zoning ordinance by operating in a residential area, according to city officials.

The original exception was granted in December 2010. It would have expired Friday, but it now will be in effect until Sept. 2, 2012, Edwards said.

The city had directed the Tifts to find another location for the business during the first special exception period. The Tifts did move a number of services to 108 Commerce St., including individual counseling, anger management and domestic violence, they said.

The only service the couple conducts at 210 Garden Circle is supervised visitation between parents and their children who are in foster care, Diedre Tift said.

The council directed the Tifts to bring them a written petition signed by their neighbors within 30 days, proving residents’ acceptance of the business, Hinesville City Clerk Sarah Lumpkin confirmed.

• The council approved a resolution adopting the 2011 Liberty County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Mike Hodges, director of the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency, said Hinesville was the first municipality to accept this year’s plan. He said he will present the plan to the county and the cities of Allenhurst, Gum Branch, Flemington, Midway, Riceboro and Walthourville.

The plan is a blueprint for coordinating and implementing hazard-mitigation policies, programs and projects, according to city officials.

Hodges said communities must have a plan in place before natural disasters such as hurricanes, droughts and fires strike so they can receive federal assistance with damages, he said.

• The council adopted a resolution to observe a Moment of Remembrance on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for one full minute at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, by “ceasing all work or other activity and marking the moment in an appropriate manner,” such as sounding a siren. 

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