The Philadelphia City Planning Commission this afternoon voted 4-1 to recommend that City Council approve a zoning change needed for a casino to open at the Gallery at 11th and Market streets in Center City. The commission acted after hearing several anti-casino activists and Chinatown residents plead for more details from Foxwoods, the casino company that is considering moving to the Gallery from a state-approved location in South Philly.
Mayor Nutter, who appointed the commission members, favors that move. But some commission members were clearly conflicted about giving the nod to a zoning change with no details offered by Foxwoods. Commission member Natalia Olson de Savjckyj opposed making the recommendation, saying she wanted the information first. Commission member Nilda Ruiz offered qualified support, saying she would have liked to have more information. Also voting for the recommendation were commission members Pat Eiding, Alan Greenberger and Anuj Gupta [sitting in for Managing Director Camille Barnett].
City Commerce Director Andy Altman, who chairs the commission but does not vote, explained to his colleagues and the crowd that the zoning recommendation only relates to zoning at the Gallery. Foxwoods would need a plan of development approved by the Commission before it could use the new zoning, if it is approved by Council. That process could take six months, Altman said. "At the end of the day, it's not a vote for this site," he said. "It's a vote for a process to evaluate this site."
A rare Saturday public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1 to discuss the legislation for the zoning change. Council may first consider the zoning change at its Nov. 6 meeting and could vote on it at its Nov. 13 meeting.