Supremes deny city council appeal

May 9

Previous coverage

By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

The State Supreme Court has upheld its decision that the city must grant Foxwoods Casino the zoning it needs to build, a casino spokeswoman said late Friday afternoon.

The Court had ruled April 2 that the city had been intentionally stalling on making a decision – the same reasoning it gave when it previously granted SugarHouse Casino its zoning.  City Council asked the court to reconsider its April decision, because at that time, Council was in the process of reviewing a legislative proposal to grant the Commercial Entertainment District status, provided Foxwoods meet certain conditions. Friday, the court denied City Council’s petition, said Foxwoods spokeswoman Maureen Garrity.

“All the legal battles are over,” Garrity said. Foxwoods has started the process of applying for permits with the city and Garrity said the ruling means the city must grant approval. The casino is now finalizing its bid packages, and intends to begin preliminary work this summer.

When told of the Supreme Court’s decision, Brian Abernathy, spokesman for City Councilman Frank DiCicco, who initially introduced the CED, said he was not surprised.

“We’re still working to figure out what will happen, and what our next steps are,” Abernathy said. He would not comment on whether one of those steps would be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case.

Abernathy also said it “has yet to be determined” whether the ruling means that the city must grant Foxwoods all of its needed permits.

A group of state legislators representing the waterfront districts say Foxwoods has at least one more hurdle to cross: They need the legislature to grant them the right to build on riparian lands of the Delaware River.

Foxwoods vehemently disagrees. Its original plan, approved by the gaming control board, called for a promenade that jutted out into the riverbed, but that promenade was pulled in, and so the riparian permits are no longer needed, Garrity said. Construction will proceed accordingly.

State representatives Michael O’Brien and Bill Keller have said in the past that they are prepared to fight Foxwoods on this issue.

Friday afternoon, Christopher Craig, senate council to Sen. Vince Fumo, said via email that “…Despite Foxwoods’ claims to the contrary, they need riparian rights to develop the site as approved by the Gaming Board.  If Foxwoods proceeds to develop a venue that was not approved by the Board, Foxwoods would be in violation of the Board’s licensing order.”

Contact the reporter at kelliespatrick@gmail.com

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