City to Spin to Win: Comply or you lose

The controversy surrounding the existence of Spin to Win isn't about gambling. It's not even about the East Water Street business using games of skill or chance. City officials consider the problem a zoning issue. Reese Wineman, Spin to Win's attorney, said zoning can be "used" and "enacted" to violate someone's civil rights, but doesn't know if the city is doing a witch hunt. He considers it "awfully unusual" to have employees receive daily citations in the midst of media coverage over games similar to what Spin to Win offers.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010

The controversy surrounding the existence of Spin to Win isn't about gambling. It's not even about the East Water Street business using games of skill or chance. City officials consider the problem a zoning issue.

Reese Wineman, Spin to Win's attorney, said zoning can be "used" and "enacted" to violate someone's civil rights, but doesn't know if the city is doing a witch hunt. He considers it "awfully unusual" to have employees receive daily citations in the midst of media coverage over games similar to what Spin to Win offers.

Business owner David J. Pugh, 57, of 32 N. Old State Road, and operators Ed and Bonnie Cordle, of Berlin Heights, have been issued about five total citations on a charge of violating Norwalk's general business zoning code. They are accused of not having the proper permit for eight Tic Tac Fruit machines.

Norwalk City Zoning Officer Linda Hebert sent Spin to Win a letter Aug. 21, instructing the business to "cease and desist operation immediately" until it had obtained the proper zoning permit. Hebert then referred the matter to Norwalk Law Director Stuart O'Hara, who decided to have the police issue daily citations until the matter is resolved.

Wineman, the law director from 1980 through 1994, has never witnessed a business getting daily citations.

"It's going to shut their business down," he said. "They've been ordered to shut their business down. Period."

Hebert said police received their first Spin to Win-related complaint Aug. 14 about "gambling and slot machines."

"They supposedly got a vendor's license Aug. 3," she added. Hebert said the business opened on East Water Street without filing the proper paperwork with the city and therefore, is operating illegally.

She believes the summonses are warranted. Hebert also said it isn't considered badgering because if someone had a similar complaint about another business violating the zoning policy, "we would do the same thing."

Norwalk Police Chief Kevin Cashen said officers "very infrequently" have had to intervene on behalf of the zoning office because most businesses "figure out what they have to do to come into compliance."

Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton is in charge of the investigation and has been to Spin to Win three times, citing each of the Cordles and Pugh. Fulton said the employees at first didn't understand why they were being charged, but have been told they need a conditional use permit.

"They've been cooperative," he said. "He (Pugh) wants to get this thing worked out at least that's what he's told me."

There were no telephone listings for the three people who face a $100 fine on each citation. The Reflector's attempt to contact Pugh at Spin to Win was unsuccessful Tuesday.

The business is accused of violating at least two provisions of the city's general business zoning code. First, Spin to Win is required to obtain a conditional use permit and would be allowed to open, depending on the restrictions handed down by the zoning board.

"Since they haven't done that, they're in violation. Each day (they're open) is a separate violation," said O'Hara, the law director.

Second, because the nature of Spin to Win's business is being an "amusement arcade," it is not allowed to operate within 1,000 feet of a school. "And they're around 800 feet from Main Street School," O'Hara added.

Even if Spin to Win applies for the permit, the law director said it's unlikely they would get it because of where the building is located. That means the school provision trumps the conditional use provision.

"I think the building was (already) there, but the use was not," O'Hara added.

Hebert, the zoning officer for the last 17 years, agreed with the law director's assessment of the situation.

She said the best resolution would be for Spin to Win to "stop what they're doing," meaning to shut down. Hebert suggested Pugh and the Cordles then file paperwork to be considered during the next zoning board meeting in October, noting it's too late for this month's meeting.

Hebert, Cashen and O'Hara agree the goal is for Spin to Win to comply with Norwalk's zoning ordinance.

"And that involves shutting them down until they do comply," O'Hara said.

Wineman, when asked if the Cordles and Pugh were going to fight the case in court, said he hadn't received "total discovery" from Hebert, but didn't elaborate.

Comments

JEF (Anonymous)

No hidden agenda huh? As far as permits and licenses are concerned, owning and operating a business in Ohio is becoming increasingly difficult. It's nice that the AG wants to help kill small business operators - higher taxes for all.

Hello! (Anonymous)

It's a simple zoning issue - No permit, no business. How hard is that to understand. A good attorney would have made sure the proper paperwork was filed before the business opened. Too bad there aren't any computers at the local bars he visits!

Beotch (Anonymous)

Get rid of all the machines in bars and clubs...all they do is suck your money up and leave you broke.

Machine Hater (...

Looking at the picture that machine is not a Tic Tac Fruit Machine...It may have the name on it but it's not. These people that have the machines fail to tell you all that that machine is only going to hit once on each bet so if someone hits it on a $4 bet its not gonna hit again on that bet so youre wasting your money trying. There are also machines out there that are tied together on one carteriage and someone can have $100 in a machine and someone sits down next to them and puts$5 in machine betting same amount and hit their bonus, how fair is that? I say get rid of them.

Candy (Anonymous)

Re: Machine Hater,
Obviously you've played these games before. Could the reason you hate these machines be because you are skill-less and have had some misfortune? Your misfortune is supposed to be everybodys bad luck? Grow up!

Dick (Anonymous)

Brother Dave,
You are a rightous person. You fight for what you believe in and that makes me proud.
Never give in.
Never give up.
We are all behind you 100%. Remember that.
Love,
Brother Dick from Greenwich

JEF (Anonymous)

Hello! wrote :" It's a simple zoning issue - No permit, no business. Perhaps if state and local government worked with business more often than against it, Ohio and Huron Co. wouldn't be in a recession.

Hello! (Anonymous)

Jef - No where does the article say the local goverment is not willing to work with the Spin to Win owners, they have never filled out the proper zoning paperwork!!! How can the city approve a zoning change if they have not even tried to get it changed? A good lawyer would have filed the paperwork ahead of time, not complained in the papers that the city is trying to shutdown the business. If I opened a strip-club in my house, and I never got a zoning approval, then I would be in violation of the law. It's so simple, yet everyone is trying to make the city out to be the bad guys. It's not the city's fault the owners did not file the proper paperwork! The city can't look the otherway because we are in a recession!!!

T$R (Anonymous)

i find it awfully interesting the way that the city has jumped all over this !!! i do agree that the business has to have the correct permit to operate .. but why is it that the building inspector and the law director are so involved in this case , but if you have a dispute with your neighbor about where the property line is , even though the pins are showing , the law director refuses to get involved .. and will tell you that you must sue your neighbor , and let the courts decide where the line is ... if that's the case .. why do we even need a building inspector in the first place??? what does she actually do for the citizens??? the way i see it , the answer is nothing... as far as having the proper permits , and being too close to a school ... well , correct me if i am wrong , but didn't Bobs News stand , have all kinds of porno for sale ??? toys , and novelties , and magazines ?? and that is a whole lot closer to the schools , than any business on water street is !!!

JEF (Anonymous)

Hello!: "No where does the article say the local goverment is not willing to work with the Spin to Win owners, they have never filled out the proper zoning paperwork!!!" And you know for a fact that the city bureaucrats were willing to work with them first? Not to believe that governments tend to penalize business first and ask questions later merely demonstrates your naivete regarding the nature of owning a business. Rules, regulations, lawyers and paperwork are strangling business in the U.S.

REPLY to T$R (A...

you also type like the swiss ROBINSON family. you think nobody notices???? I may have been born in the morning, but it wasn't yesterday morning!

Tricia (Anonymous)

If they are going to allow these machines to stay then they should be in a controlled environment so that just like if you win in the lottery that the proper taxes are paid. Just like any other business you MUST pay your taxes and the same should apply with these machines.

Hello! (Anonymous)

JEF -

I do not know for a fact that the city was willing to work with the owners, but the fact that the owners never filed the proper paperwork, we will never know, we will? And, those rules and regulations you don't seem to like, they are not strangling the businesses that follow the rules. The reason businesses fail has to do with unsuccessful business plans and bad planning.

JEF (Anonymous)

Hello wrote: "The reason businesses fail has to do with unsuccessful business plans and bad planning. " Huh? And you received your MBA from what school? There are a multitude of variables other than your simplistic and asinine assessment for business success and failure. Govt. regulation most certainly plays a major factor. The U.S. is losing its competitive edge in the world's financial markets due primarily to excessive rules and regulations. The local and state economies are subject to the same bureaucratic oversight foolishness that you appear to embrace.

just move it (A...

I think the old Bob's newstand, might be zoned for that, it's worth a try

JEF (Anonymous)

just move it wrote:" I think the old Bob's newstand, might be zoned for that, it's worth a try " I like it. Ya got churches uptown (usually a sign of economic decline). Why not gaming parlors? At least maybe it'll bring more traffic to uptown? It could certainly use it.

JEF (Anonymous)

Hello!, if you don't believe that government has become more restrictive over the yrs. regarding business, please note a new study which reports that - "During the 1950s, about 4.5 percent of the workforce needed to obtain a license to work. That figure has grown to over 20 percent today. To read the full study go to: http://www.reason.org/ps361.pdf

ged (Anonymous)

the price og gas in Norwalk is once again 20 to 30 cents higher per gallon , than it is anywhere else around here ? why? i hope that the gas station owners are proud of themselves for over pricing and gouging their family, friends , neighbors , and all of the patrons who support the local businesses. i do realize that we will never see gas at $1.50 to $2.00 per gallon because of political reasons , which i wont get into at this time , but there is no reason that i can see that the price of gas has to be so much higher in Norwalk , than anywhere else around Norwalk . i hope that you guys are smart shoppers , i know that i will not be buying my gas in Norwalk , until they get their prices down to a competative range . how do you sleep at night?