By Kellie Patrick Gates
Based on the recent success of Philadelphia’s other proposed casino, Foxwoods has asked the state Supreme Court to declare that its Delaware River property is now properly zoned for a casino.
Should the court case go Foxwood’s way, work on the site would likely start within weeks of the ruling, even though some city permits are still needed, said Spokeswoman Maureen Garrity.
“In our development agreement, (the city) said they will help us streamline and expedite approvals,” she said. “Once we get the approvals in the Supreme Court, I think in a matter of weeks we can start doing site preparation.”
Foxwoods expects the court to rule its way, even though a similar petition it filed in June was denied.
In early December, the State Supreme Court agreed with SugarHouse Casino that the City of Philadelphia had intentionally stalled for too long on the various requests for zoning and permits the casino has made. The Court then decreed that the SugarHouse site is in a Commercial Entertainment District, and said that the casino’s plan, already approved by the city planning commission, needs no further action by city council.
Some casino opponents said they were stunned at the decision in part because Foxwoods Casino’s earlier request had been denied. But for Foxwood officials, the ruling was a joyous occasion.
Last week, they re-filed their petition with the state Supreme Court, said spokeswoman Garrity. “Our position is that when we (first) filed in June, we were not as far along in the process as SugarHouse was,” she said. Since June, Foxwood’s CED application was read into the City Council record, and the Planning Commission has approved its site plan. “We updated our previous petition, updating our facts to present the same things that (SugarHouse) presented.”
Foxwoods expects the Court will similarly rule for them this time around.
The Court’s SugarHouse decision will not stand unchallenged, however. Philadelphia City Council plans to ask the court to reconsider. Rep. Mike O’Brien has expressed a similar intent.
SugarHouse has also received good news from the City Commerce Department, which granted it the right to build along submerged lands along the Delaware – a decision that is also likely to be appealed to the courts soon. At one time, Foxwoods also sought these riparian rights. It has pulled in a river-front promenade, however, and officials there say they no longer need riparian rights to build. They are not going back to their original plan, Garrity said.
As is true in virtually every aspect of the casino wars, some who want the casinos to relocate or not be built at all dispute that Foxwoods needs no riparian rights for its current plan.