Fairfax City Mayor Fred Silverthorne still remembers scraping together a week's allowance--maybe $1--in the 1930s to play pinball machines in Chicago.
He understood how his 16-year-old son felt when he took his $5 allowance and headed for a video arcade in Fairfax City.
"My son just went up a few times to the arcade, but he hasn't overdone it. It's just a fad. Some place to go and have a good time," said the elder Silverthorne, 63. "He doesn't go there anymore."
So last week Silverthorne decided not to tell his son the City Council at its meeting Tuesday decided to curb video games in Fairfax.
After hearing from civic associations throughout the city, which supported the new restrictions, the council voted to require any new amusement arcade with six or more video machines to go before the council for a special-use permit. The ordinance also requires other new businesses with three to five video machines to get a special-use permit from the council. Previously, the Board of Zoning Appeals issued permits for arcades. The new ordinance allows the BZA to issue permits only for businesses with one or two machines.
"We could have ended up the Fun City of the U.S.A., so we wanted to hit a balance," Silverthorne said. "We want to look over each amusement arcade operator and then see where these places would be located. One arcade applicant wanted to operate until 3 or 4 in the morning and this concerned us."