City Councilman Frank DiCicco introduced a package of legislation yesterday aimed at thwarting construction of two riverfront slot-machine casinos.
DiCicco's proposals range from an outright ban on gaming in the city to adopting building restrictions to prevent the proliferation of pawnshops and adult clubs around casinos.
"It's a long shot, I admit it," the councilman said of his efforts. "We're trying to slow the process down."
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on Dec. 20 picked two Philadelphia sites for slots casinos: SugarHouse Casino, at Delaware and Frankford Avenues, and the Foxwoods Casino, at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street. Both sites are in DiCicco's district.
The gaming board - which also chose slots sites in Pittsburgh, the Poconos and Bethlehem - has yet to issue its official opinion and order.
Opponents have 30 days to appeal the board's decision after it issues a final order.
Setting the stage for an effort to alter the state's decision, City Council yesterday unanimously approved DiCicco's proposal to hire legal counsel to appeal the gaming board's decision.
Council also authorized public hearings to explore alternate slots sites and to hire a traffic engineer to study the impact of two casinos on waterfront streets. No traffic study has taken the two facilities into account.
In choosing the two Philadelphia sites, the gaming board rejected three other applicants.
DiCicco's proposals, which will be scheduled for hearings, include:
Amending the Home Rule Charter to require a voter referendum to approve any zoning ordinance that would permit a licensed gaming facility.
Prohibiting licensed gaming facilities in all zoning classifications.
Requiring the zoning classification that permits casinos - called a Commercial Entertainment District - to also require that a Neighborhood Improvement District be in place. That would effectively create a referendum process for the near-neighbors.
Removing licensed gaming facilities as a permitted use in the Commercial Entertainment District zone.
Adding additional restrictions on gross floor area, open areas, waterfront setback, and signage to the zone in which casinos are permitted.
Prohibiting any "regulated use" - adult-entertainment venues, pawnshops - within 1,000 feet of a Commercial Entertainment District and adding payday loan offices as a regulated use. Regulated uses are already prohibited within 500 feet of residential districts, schools, playgrounds or religious institutions.
Changing the Foxwoods site's zoning from commercial to residential to prevent premature groundbreaking.