Thursday, Sept. 21, 2000 | 11:14 a.m.
The owners of Craig Ranch Golf Course are two months away from asking the North Las Vegas Planning Commission for a gaming permit, which if approved would be turned over to Station Casinos Inc. for its latest gaming venture.
After an hour of both public outcry and support Wednesday, the North Las Vegas City Council moved plans forward for the proposed hotel-casino by unanimously granting a rezoning request for 36 acres on the golf course.
Councilwoman Stephanie Smith said the most poignant testimony was by resident Ed Schmitz, who tearfully told the council of his dilemma over the project that will be just 500 feet from his home.
Schmitz said he is adamantly opposed to a casino in his neighborhood, but acknowledged the site already approved for development by Station off Craig Road and Martin Luther King is even worse.
"As much as it hurts me to say this ... what this comes down to is our kids or their kids across from a casino," he said tearfully. "It sickens me to think a casino is going in one of our neighborhoods, but I am going to say put it in front of my house. I feel there is a lot more adverse affects up there (off Martin Luther King Boulevard)."
Residents were outraged when the council this year approved an application by Station to build Craig Ranch Station on Martin Luther King, just south of Craig Road. The site was previously owned by NevStar Gaming Entertainment Corp., and was proposed for development until the company went bankrupt and Station resurrected the plans.
A judge had previously ruled that the council must grant the request because the land is zoned for gaming.
The NevStar site, council members and residents agree, is not suitable for a casino because of its proximity to neighborhoods.
The existing golf course will be redesigned on the remaining 103 acres.
Attorney Bill Curran, representing land owners Stimson Enterprises, said the company plans to ask the Planning Commission for a gaming permit on Nov. 8, and after seeking approval by the City Council, will then transfer the land to Station for its planned casino development.
City officials have said they would go along the swap, but only if gaming entitlements are surrendered on Station's current parcel.
Curran said the golf course is a better location for a casino because it is located on a major thoroughfare. But not all the residents were convinced.
The rezoning approval will meet the requirement that neighborhood casinos be 500 feet away from residential areas.
The owners will border the 36-acre casino parcel with three acres of commercial lots to buffer the residents.
City Attorney Sean McGowan said without parceling out the property, the casino site would be too close to residential neighborhoods.
Tracy Foglesong, who lives 500 feet from the proposed casino, said she will fight the casino.
"The city allowed my neighborhood to be built there," she said. "That was my backyard. This is my fight, and why you aren't fighting for my neighborhood I don't understand."
Smith said the debate is another indication that previous councils have used poor planning. She wondered why the NevStar site was ever designated for gaming in the first place.
"We're seeing another classic example of the aftermath of bad planning and zoning," she said. "We're seeing the product of our lack of vision, and who pays the price? Again, the citizens."