No Referendum For Slots

| June 25, 2010 | 10 Comments

For now, it looks like slots will be coming to the Arundel Mills Mall area. Until the project lands in court again.

From The Baltimore Sun:

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge struck down a ballot referendum against slots at Arundel Mills mall Friday, a decision that opponents have vowed to appeal to the state’s highest court.

According to Judge Ronald A. Silkworth, the legislation that grants zoning rights for Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. to construct a casino on the mall parking lot is part of an appropriation package, which according to state law, cannot be put to referendum.

“[The zoning bill] is an interdependent and legally inseparable piece of an appropropriation package for maintaining state and local government and, therefore, is not subject to referendum,” Silkworth wrote.

Lawyers for the Maryland Jockey Club, which has waged war to stop the project, say the legal battle isn’t over.

Alan Rifkin, an attorney for the jockey club and two community opposition groups, said he was “confident” his side would be successful on appeal.

“When the people voted in 2008 to allow slots facilities they did so with a clear understanding that those facilities were subject to all planning and zoning laws,” Rifkin said. “There has been no appropriation of any revenue from a slots facility yet in the state that would prevent [the question] from being placed on the ballot.”

Rifkin also represents the groups Citizens Against Slots at the Mall and Stop Slots at Arundel Mills.

PPE Casino Resorts Maryland LLC, a subsidiary of Cordish, sued the county election board earlier this year, alleging fraud on the part of the signature collectors.

“The court’s ruling today is a tremendous victory for the taxpayers of Maryland in general and Anne Arundel County in particular,” said Joseph Weinberg, a managing member at PPE . “Our facility at Arundel Mills will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes for the State and County, when these funds are urgently needed. Between construction and permanent jobs, our facility at Arundel Mills will create thousands of new, quality jobs at a time when they are desperately needed.”

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John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.