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Mayor Michael Coleman Wants to Change Casino Location in Arena District

Mayor Michael Coleman is looking for legal power to regulate a private casino establishment project that he wants removed from its high-profile downtown neighborhood location. Mayor Coleman said that the casino's location in the city's Arena District is not appropriate and the neighborhood needs to remain a family-oriented area.

The district features a brand new minor league ballpark and new condominium units near Nationwide Area, the home of NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets. Coleman said that he will ask the city lawyer for an opinion on the city's legal power over the casino development. Ohio state voters approved a constitutional change on November 3rd, 2009 that permits casino facilities in Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati.

The constitutional amendment also specified the neighborhoods where the casino facilities will be constructed. Coleman said that it is not clear how much power the city may be able to use on the issue. A majority of voters in Franklin County and Columbus, which includes the city, dismissed the casino issue.

Bob Tenenbaum, a spokesperson for Penn National Gaming, a co-developer of the casino project, said that gaming developers want to cooperate with local officials. But in their copy of proposed legislation to implement the constitutional change, developers call for casino facilities to be subject only to local health and building rules.

It also blocks local zoning rules from stopping casino construction and it would block actions that "unduly affect" casinos. But it does not specifically define that term. Governor Ted Strickland has said that he will veto any casino proposal that does not protect the ability of local governments' to regulate the casino projects.

In a separate move, a group of central Ohio legislators are pushing a plan for a constitutional amendment that would let cities decide on whether they want to host a casino or not by passing a local vote.


12/07/2009 23:57 PM


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