Thursday, Aug. 24, 2000 | 11:44 a.m.
North Las Vegas resident Robert May believes the site of a proposed casino is too close to neighborhoods and fears for the children who could be harmed as they walk to an elementary school less than a mile away.
May joined a number of residents who told the North Las Vegas Planning Commission Wednesday that the Craig Ranch Golf Course at Craig Road and Commerce Street should not be used as a casino site.
City staff members pointed out that the request was only to rezone 42 acres of the golf course for commercial use, but the residents focused on the fact that the rezoning is the next step toward a future casino planned on the site.
Stimson Enterprises Inc. plans to develop a casino on 36 acres, with the existing 18-hole golf course redesigned on the remaining 111 acres. In the next month Stimson will submit an application to the City Council for a gaming district and use permit for a casino to be built by Station Casinos Inc.
The planning commissioners unanimously approved the zoning change, which the City Council must also approve.
The zoning switch was designed to skirt a state law that requires casinos to be at least 500 feet from residential neighborhoods. The rezoning is also part of a larger plan to move a Station Casino project to a less-populated site.
The golf course is 300 feet from a residential area, City Attorney Sean McGowan said.
To keep the project legal, the owner proposes bordering the 36-acre casino parcel with three slivers of commercial lots, totaling 5 acres, to buffer the residents.
The parcels don't move the casino any farther from the neighborhood, but it would satisfy the legal requirements by moving the property line another 200 feet, McGowan said.
The site is just blocks away from a 34-acre Station-owned parcel near Craig Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Station has announced plans to develop a $100 million to $150 million hotel-casino at that site by the end of 2002. A group of unidentified investors represented by Las Vegas attorney Stan Parry has taken an option to purchase the Craig Ranch Golf Course from Stimson Enterprises.
In connection with the purchase, the group wants the city to zone the parcel for gaming and transfer the land to Station for its planned casino development. City officials have said they would go along with the swap, but only if gaming entitlements are surrendered on Station's current parcel. Shawn Lampman, who represents the land owner, said the casino on the golf course will have less of an impact on residents.
Attorney Bill Curran, who also represents the land owners, said the casino will provide numerous amenities and is a benefit to everyone in the long run.
"This is the perfect location from the standpoint of the city and serving the citizens of the city," he said. "The overall effect is going to be a huge plus for the city."
Residents were not convinced.
Ryan Eldridge was furious after the meeting, saying the commissioners ignored his emotional testimony that his 8-month-old daughter would be placed in danger because of increased traffic.
He lambasted the city for switching the zoning on residents, who had no idea about the casino when they moved in.
"I'm 24 years old, a four-year resident, and I've been saving for four years to get out" of North Las Vegas, he said. "I can't depend on North Las Vegas because every time I turn around I'm getting another thing thrown at me."
"It's a bad move," Skip Reading said. "The only people that want (the casino) in there are the people who have a monetary interest."