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Spanish Lake Casino Opponents Set to Picket County Planning Commission Meeting Tonight

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Remember the late-July proposal from a North St. Louis County developer for a massive casino and resort next to the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area? The one that would turn 376 acres of wetlands into 8,000 parking spots, an 18-hole golf course, and another Casino in the St. Louis area? The one that became significantly more likely after the state's gaming commission freed up a casino license by ruling that the Admiral Riverboat must close sometime this year?

Yup, that's the one.

Well, the St. Louis County Planning Commission is set to decide tonight whether the land will be re-zoned in order to make way for the development. If permission is granted, it would be the first step in a lengthy process to build the casino.

According to a press release that just arrived in the RFT inbox, a group of protesters from Spanish Lake, the area adjacent to the riverfront area in question, are set to protest the County hearing at the County Government Administration Building in Clayton. 

Indications are they'll have picket signs and everything but no word on catchy anti-Casino chants. Full text of the release from the Common Sense Coalition, including a pun that calls the casino "a losing bet", after the jump.

Emphasis added:

Planning Commission Meeting 

Date: September 14, 2009 

Time: 5:30-6 p.m. 

Location: 41 S. Central, Clayton, MO 63105 

Purpose: To demonstrate opposition to a proposal to re-zone nearly 400 acres of Mississippi River floodplain and wetlands in the Spanish Lake community, south of the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, for a casino complex. 

The zoning change is being requested in order to build the Riverview Casino complex, a 376-acre development, including parking for 8,000 cars, in the Mississippi River floodplain.

The plan is in direct conflict with the Spanish Lake Community Area Study which was approved by the St. Louis County Council in 1999 at which time the County's Comprehensive General Plan also was amended to include that study. 

In addition to costing all taxpayers millions of dollars as public services, road improvements and sewers would have to be newly constructed or extended, the casino is a losing bet for all St. Louis in many ways. Its damage would be expensive, ongoing and irreversible. 

The proposed site abuts the southern boundary of Columbia Bottom Conservation Area along the Mississippi River, north of I-270. The area is world renowned as the location of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, as a breeding ground for eagles and an important haven for migratory birds along the Mississippi flyway. It currently experiences frequent, seasonal flooding and the Missouri Department of Conservation expects the area to continue to be prone to flooding.[2] If approved, this project would continue a pattern of ill-conceived endeavors in St. Louis County that exacerbate flooding by destroying wetlands and increasing the amount of impenetrable surface in the floodplain. The floodplains and wetlands near the project possess rare natural beauty and provide valuable migratory bird and wildlife habitat, in addition to their value for floodwater retention. The Riverview Casino complex would destroy these ecosystems and would undermine the $25 million investment made in the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.

The St. Louis Business Journal reports that "at least 25 protestors" will attend. They also have this interesting nugget about the folks behind North County Development LLC (the group hoping to build the casino) and the other bit of Casino-related business to be discussed tonight:

Attorney Brad Lakin of LakinChapman LLC and his wife, Hallie Lakin, executive Kenneth Goldstein of Argo Products Co. and real estate investor Julie McDonald are the principals of North County Development LLC, the firm behind the development project. 

The county planning commission also is expected to consider a proposal tonight that affects Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment's planned River City casino in Lemay. The commission will consider amending the county zoning ordinance "pertaining to signs for large entertainment complexes including but not limited to casinos."

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