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NYC City Planning Commission Approves Casino-Friendly Zoning Changes

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New York City's City Planning Commission (CPC) approved a change to the city's zoning rules on Wednesday, aiming to facilitate the construction of a casino within the city limits. The measure, seen as crucial for ensuring that at least one state-issued casino license is utilized in the five boroughs, now awaits final approval from the City Council.

One Step Closer

In a 10-2 decision, the CPC endorsed the rule change, which establishes a distinct review process for potential casino projects. These projects will no longer undergo the city's standard Uniform Land Use Review process.

Related: NYC Governor Tries to Ease Casino Development Rules

Proponents believe that this change could alleviate concerns from the New York State Gaming Commission regarding zoning hurdles for casino proposals in the five boroughs. However, certain proposals, such as the two casino projects in Queens, will not be affected by this rule.

Nevertheless, if fully ratified, this rule will play a pivotal role in the Gaming Commission's evaluation of which developers should be granted one of the three anticipated downstate casino licenses within the next couple of years.

Advocates of the rule, also referred to as a text amendment, argue that it is essential for creating a fair competition landscape for casino applicants within New York City. Dan Garodnick, the Chair of the CPC and former Director of the Department of City Planning, emphasized the need for this amendment, asserting that it would streamline the process while providing a structured framework for zoning consideration.

The measure still needs approval by the City Council and NYC Mayor Eric Adams. Adams has already shown support for the zoning changes.

Zoning Changes Face Resistance

Despite the majority approval, two members of the commission expressed reservations about the amendment, fearing potential negative impacts on local communities. They, along with other critics, raised concerns about the limited opportunities for public input on casino projects under the new review process.

Commissioner Leah Goodridge, a tenant's rights attorney, voiced dissent, characterizing the vote as a step backward in terms of ensuring thorough scrutiny of casino developments. She argued against fast-tracking casino proposals, emphasizing the importance of a robust and comprehensive review process.

It is anticipated that the City Council will thoroughly deliberate on the implications of the zoning rule change before reaching a final decision. The outcome of their deliberations will have significant ramifications not only for potential casino developers but also for residents and stakeholders across the city.

Furthermore, the discussion around this zoning rule underscores broader debates about urban development, economic growth, and community engagement. Finding a consensus on how to navigate these issues will be paramount for the future of New York City's landscape.

Overall, the approval of this zoning rule marks a significant milestone in the ongoing dialogue surrounding casino development in New York City. However, the path forward remains uncertain, with stakeholders eagerly awaiting the City Council's verdict on this contentious issue.

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