By Forrest Saunders, Multimedia Journalist - email
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
To get a casino like the Argosy off the river, Sioux City needs a refreshed zoning ordinance. What's wrong with the old one?
"Right now casinos aren't allowed anywhere in town, because when our zoning ordinance was written gambling wasn't allowed anywhere in Iowa," said Sioux City's Senior Planner Brent Nelson.
For three months, Nelson and the Planning and Zoning Commission, have been working to update it. They've been writing and rewriting drafts that would stipulate where a casino could be placed, and how it could be designed.
At their meeting Tuesday, officials reviewed the latest draft. In it, new rules only allowing a casino in a 462 acre area called the "Casino Overlay District." It runs from 8th Street to the Missouri River. Wesley Parkway to Floyd Blvd. Nelson says a casino there would "enhance" the downtown's economic and cultural strength.
"It's the position of city staff that a entertainment facility like that is inappropriate anywhere other than the downtown," said Nelson.
Not everyone's on board with this area though. Sioux City Attorney Dan Moore told the commission a client he represents would like them to consider other areas. Moore wouldn't say who his client is… just that he owns a large piece of land in southeast Morningside.
"That could be available for this type of development. And it would be ideal for this type of development," said Moore.
Possible operator, Penn National Gaming, raised some general concerns at the meeting. They say if they were to build a downtown facility, they'd like to avoid long walks to the building, and would prefer a one level facility, with surface parking
"In no way is Penn opposed to a downtown location, we are simply expressing a few concerns as you debate the merits of the proposed zoning," said Argosy Vice President Lance George.
In response, city officials will make a list of places a casino could go inside their COD. If it's too few, they say they'll consider expanding the area.
For a change to the city zoning ordinance to be official, the commission first needs to approve an amendment. The city council would then have to sign off on it.
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