New business planned for public square

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FunWorld, a business proposed for the south side of Lewisburg's public square, is a topic for the city's Board of Zoning Appeals meeting tomorrow in City Hall.

Michel Farrar, proprietor of the Corner Cafe and his bond service in the northwest corner of the square, plans to have three TV screens for Wii- and Gamebox-brand entertainment.

The zoning appeals board meets at 4 p.m. Thursday in City Hall at 131 E. Church St. FunWorld is planned at 123 W. Commerce St. The building is owned by Ron and Rita Maggi.

The city panel is required to consider the business because of the way the city's zoning ordinance is written, City Codes Officer Greg Lowe says. The building is in the central business zone.

When Lewisburg downtown zoning code was enacted, it specified arcades as a land use that requires zoning appeals board approval.

"It requires BZA approval because that's the way it is in the Use Chart." Lowe said. "I don't think anyone will have an issue with it."

He and Farrar have reported positive reactions to the business concept, noting that it will provide a place for young people in a part of town that's considered safe. The front door of the County Courthouse is just across the street.

Zoning codes were written before electronic games such as the Wii and similar interactive programs were developed and Lowe noted that the activities associated with those devices are likened to what's classified as a game room, or an arcade.

"The concept that Michael has isn't like the old smoky pool rooms," Lowe said. "It's going to be a youth hang out and he will be explaining that to the BZA."

Farrar's explanation will include how FunWorld will be a "hosting station" for online competition for gamers here and elsewhere. "We'll have Wii, Play Station and X-box so they can get online and be involved in national tournaments."

FunWorld is to have "a variety of video games, including old school games and more modern games," Farrar said.