Thursday, Dec. 14, 2000 | 11 a.m.
Almost a dozen North Las Vegas residents who will likely face a five-story casino in their neighborhood scoffed at the idea that Station Casinos Inc. is a good neighbor.
Instead, they voiced their disapproval Wednesday to the North Las Vegas Planning Commission, accusing the company of shoving a neighborhood casino down their throats.
Commissioners heard until midnight 11 people speak in favor and 11 people speak against the proposed Craig Ranch Station on the Craig Ranch Golf Course. In the end, the commission granted Stimson Enterprises Inc. -- the golf course owner -- a gaming permit and approval of a gaming enterprise district for a casino on 36 acres at Craig Road and Coleman Street.
Commissioner Tom Langford cast the lone vote against both requests. The gaming enterprise request was passed on to the North Las Vegas City Council, which will make a final decision.
Still bitter about Station's tactics in acquiring the Fiesta and Santa Fe hotel-casinos, moves he said cost some workers their jobs, resident Mike Lewis said the company cannot be trusted.
"When Station acquired the Santa Fe, they laid people off -- some fellow North Las Vegans," he said. "That doesn't sound like a good neighbor to me."
Station argues it did not lay anyone off at the Santa Fe and the Fiesta. Station says that in buying both properties, it had the right to install its own staff and that the previous owners did not require that Station keep their workforces. Station accepted employment applications from workers at both properties.
However, in buying the Reserve in Henderson, Station agreed to keep that casino's existing staff. And the buyer of Station's two casinos in Missouri is required to keep those employees.
Resident Ramona Grey said she believed the commissioner's minds were made up even before the residents spoke.
"What a sad day when you come into a planning meeting and already feel defeated," she said.
Stimson, though, claims to have overwhelming approval from residents.
Attorney Bill Curran, representing Stimson, presented five petitions, each with 120 signatures, from residents who live within 2,500 feet of the Fiesta, Texas, and Palace hotel-casinos.
In the petition they agreed that the casinos increased their quality of life. Curran also submitted affidavits from a local Catholic priest and a Summerlin pastor who said casinos are not detrimental to citizens. He also presented 6,000 signatures from North Las Vegas residents who agreed that the golf course is the best site for a casino.
Several residents, though, doubted the validity of the signatures and accused Stimson of obtaining signatures from residents who lived far away from the casino and would be the least affected.
If approved by the city council, Stimson plans to transfer the 36-acre gaming parcel on the golf course to Station to build Craig Ranch Station. Station already has a casino site approved near Craig Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard, but has proposed switching sites to the golf course.
Part of the approval for a gaming enterprise district on the golf course will require Station to "deed restrict," or give up its rights to its former parcel.
Resident Lisa Garcia said she believes the golf course location is the lesser of the two evils. Residents are even closer to the site off Martin Luther King and more people will be affected, she said.
"I'm a resident and a parent," she said. "Casinos are good for the community as far as the economic benefits. The golf course location is better."