Proposed West Side bingo hall doesn't come without controversy

City Council set to vote on business on Thursday

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council is set to vote Thursday on whether to approve zoning for a new bingo hall on the West Side.

The battle over the proposed business, however, is raising larger questions.

Newly elected District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse believes there are enough bingo halls in the area already, but the owners disagree.

All of this is raising the question; who gets to decide what's good business for a neighborhood?

Kim and Francis Rogers want to open a second Circus Bingo on Culebra Road just blocks away from the first.

“This space has sat vacant for five years,” Kim Francis said. “There is no other business in District 6 that has charitable contributions like a bingo hall."

That is why the couple is frustrated by the opposition from Brockhouse.

“Within a 5-mile radius, there are already eight bingo halls present, and to me, that’s enough," Brockhouse said.

As the tables inside sit empty, charities said they're missing out on money they were banking on.

“Working on the aesthetic of transition homes for victims of child abuse and neglect that age out of foster care that have nowhere to go,” Shelly Chance, with Theatre for a Change, said. “Circus Bingo was going to provide us funding to be able to do that."

At the heart of this issue: zoning.

The new bingo location is not properly zoned.

The Rogerses believed they had followed the right procedures when the city clerk's office signed off. However, “Essentially what they give is authorization that he’s allowed to conduct bingo in the city of San Antonio,” Brockhouse said. “It’s not a site-specific or zoning license."

“It’s very sad,” Kim Rogers said. “It’s a very sad political day because in the end, the people that are hurt in this are the charities."

Brockhouse said he is not “anti-bingo hall,” he is worried about what kinds of businesses are in District 6.

“What I am trying to do is build a community and put the right amount of businesses and a good mix of businesses that zoning allows us to do,” he said.

The city's zoning commission recommended against rezoning Circus Bingo to allow it to operate.

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