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Delmar rezones to allow casino

Tuesday, February 23, 2010  By: Delawareonline.com

DELMAR -- Town leaders cleared the way Monday for a casino complex to set up shop in this quiet community, despite uncertainty over the future of expanded slots in Delaware. 


On a 4-1 vote after 20 minutes of discussion, Town Council members approved amending the zoning code to allow casinos along the highway commercial district, where a developer has proposed such a project along U.S. 13. 


But developer James Rostocki still has hurdles to jump, including getting a license from the state. He also must bring a specific application to the town and a study of the project's impact on schools, the fire company and police service, and pay any impact fees assessed by the town.


Delmar Mayor John Outten said he understood opponents' concerns, especially about gambling addictions.


But the jobs that a casino complex would bring to Delmar more than outweigh those negatives, he said.


"Where do they go for jobs? They go to Salisbury," he said of local residents. "This is going to create jobs."


The lone dissent came from Vice Mayor Michael Houlihan, who did not offer a reason for his vote.


Debbie Davis, a resident of the Maryland side of the bi-state town, urged the council to vote against such a plan, saying she's seen a close relative deal with a gambling addiction.


"It is going to be good money, but do we need what's going to happen?" she said.


Council member Mary Lee Pase emphasized the importance of the impact fees that any developer would pay.


"The townspeople need to know that -- we're considering the whole town," she said. "It's not a done deal."


Rostocki said with the General Assembly out of session for budget hearings, it's tough to figure out how the political winds are blowing on the issue of adding casinos in the state.


"I can't get a straight answer out of anybody," he said. "No one really knows what's going on."


Plans for the complex call for joining forces with a 46-year-old racetrack across the highway. Rostocki and his partners are in negotiations to purchase the parcel needed for the casino, and also have the right of first refusal for the Delaware Motorsports Complex property should another buyer come forward.

One mile north of the state line, the site is also close to the growing Salisbury, Md., metro area and near U.S. 50. The proposal includes a hotel, retail space and an indoor convention and entertainment center. The parcel was annexed into the Delmar town limits more than a year ago, and is zoned highway commercial.

Contact Dan Shortridge at 463-3338 or dshortridge@delawareonline.com.

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