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Anne Arundel County Council Defers Zoning Law Changes for Arundel Mills Casino

On May 5th, 2009, any decision on whether to permit a casino facility at Arundel Mills mall has been postponed for another 2 weeks, improving the chances the issue could die without any vote, possibly dismissing plans for gaming in Anne Arundel County. The Anne Arundel County Council voted unanimously to delay any talks on that proposal until May 18th, 2009, marking the 2nd time that the City Council set aside the zoning bill and getting closer to the bill's June 2009 expiration.

Councilman Daryl Jones, a Democrat from Severn said that there are numerous issues that they want to discuss first before doing any action. Jones' district includes the Anne Arundel mall and he has made different amendments aimed at solving the security and traffic issues around the casino facility.

Any modifications made to the bill must be made during the council's meeting on May 18th, 2009 and Jones stated that it is unclear if all the worked can be finished that night. The City Council has long been considering the issue since March 2009 whether to change the zoning laws to allow slots casino gaming in Anne Arundel County, one of the 5 locations Maryland voters approved for pockets of legalized gaming.

The referendum state voted passed in November 2008 requires slot facilities to be subjected to local zoning gaming laws. Currently, the existing county laws do not allow casino facilities. Developer Codfish Cos. from Baltimore has proposed constructing a 200,000 square foot entertainment facility at Arundel Mills to feature restaurants, a venue for live concerts and a casino complex that offers 4,750 slot machines. It is the only proposal in the county under review by the state agency the releases licenses for casino facilities. The statewide slots plan, when fully enforced, is expected to produce hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly revenue for Maryland.

Anne Arundel would receive a total of $30 million dollars annually. A group of resident who lives near the mall has criticized the zoning bill, stating that the Anne Arundel Mills mall is a family-friendly location and a casino facility would ruin the area. Jones has made some amendments to ease the concerns of the residents but those amendments have now been set aside for another 2 weeks.

The council also decided to shelve those ideas on April 20th, 2009, saying that the delay was important because Councilman Ed Middlebrooks, a Republican from Severn, was not present at session. On other important issues, the 7-member council has been hesitant to cast votes on the proposals-at one time crafting legislation for 8 months and debuting more than one proposal to finish the same task. Councilman Josh Cohen, a Democrat from Annapolis, opposes modifying the county zoning laws to solve the casino issue and he believes that delays just show that the slots casino proposal lacks enough support to pass.


17 May 2009
News Submitted by:
Jack Silverman

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