Jefferson County Commission

Shades of Gray? Not When It Comes to Bingo in Jefferson County

Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight, Jan. 6, 2022 (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

The Jefferson County Commission today denied a rezoning request for a private club in Corner, suspecting that the establishment would be used for bingo.

“The applicant wasn’t here but we kind of got a little birdie telling us that may be a bingo hall,” Commissioner Joe Knight said after the meeting. “We don’t want bingo halls. We’ve got plenty. We don’t need all the bingo halls where these cities are passing ordinances prohibiting them coming to the county.”

Knight said some may have viewed unincorporated Jefferson County as a gray area beyond the jurisdiction of cities that have expressly forbidden bingo businesses.

“We don’t want to be the gray area and we need to tighten that up a little bit with our ordinances as far as what we allow and what we do,” Knight said. “They can go in and get a business license under the auspices of a ‘private club,’ which doesn’t tell you anything.

“Is it a strip joint? Is it a beer joint? Is it a bingo hall? We need to clear that up,” the commissioner continued. “Tell us what your club’s gonna be. Tell us what you are going to put in our county, in our neighborhoods for these citizens. Then we’ll decide. But don’t just say a generic, private club, and then you’re out there doing whatever you want to do.”

Commissioners approved 37 resolutions from Tuesday’s committee meeting and three matters of new business. Among the matters passed by the panel was an extension of the county’s Coronavirus Response Leave Program, now effective from Jan. 14 through July 1.

Knight sought and received clarification of the leave plan, considering protocol changes made by the Centers for Disease Control, which had required a 10-day quarantine if one was exposed to COVID but recently reduced that advice.

“If you’re asymptomatic and you’ve been exposed, quarantine five days,” Knight recounted. “If you have symptoms, then you have to wait until you are no longer symptomatic and the five days.”