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Local News

Plano City Council talks rules on haunted houses in neighborhoods

One would hardly think of talking about haunted houses in February, but Plano City Council members spent some time on them at Monday’s council meeting.

Haunted houses were discussed, but no decision on their future was set by Plano City Council members Monday night. The discussion centered on an amendment to the ordinance regulating haunted houses in the city.

According to Alderman Stephen DeBolt, chairman of the council’s Building and Ground Committee, the ordinance was being amended to include the words that haunted houses would be allowed only in commercial and manufacturing districts in the city. They presently are allowed in residential areas.

Alderman Mike Rennels asked if this would include having one in a garage or basement and was told by Mayor Bob Hausler that the proposed ordinance change would allow them only in a manufacturing or commercial zoned area.

DeBolt said he had a meeting with the fire chief, his assistant, and Tom Karpus, director of planning and zoning to discuss the haunted houses. Karpus said the life safety code covers haunted houses and recommends they be in manufacturing or commercial areas.

DeBolt said they had received complaints about a haunted house in Lakewood subdivision that attracted about 800 people. He said this was too many people for this use in a residential area and said it was difficult for vehicles to move through the area. The safety of children was the big concern, he said.

Some people wanted streets closed, which would have caused problems, he added.

Alderman Jamal Williams said he did not think it would be fair to take this attraction from the children just because it was not properly planned,

Alderman Ben Eaton said this use was not a proper one for residential areas. He said he went to the house last year and found beer bottles on the parkways, and saw cars had been parked on the parkway.

“It does not belong in a residential area. Residents I talked to were not in favor of it,” he said.

Rennels said he visited the area last year and did not see any beer bottles or cars parked on the parkway. He said this is not the proper way to approach the situation and added that the haunted houses should not be excluded in totality. He said they could be allowed in basements or garages with this ordinance. But they should not be allowed to be built in driveways where they remain for several weeks.

Alderman Scott Mulliner said the issue should be returned to the proper committee for further discussion.

Eaton said the issue should go back to committee to define what a haunted house is. If it is held in a house it would be fine, but not in something built in a driveway, he said.

The issue was referred back to DeBolt’s committee for further discussion.

And before coming back to the council for a vote, it should be referred to the Committee of the Whole for discussion and recommendation to the full council, Mayor Hausler added.

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