Douglas commissioners grant Hillbillies casino zoning
October 12, 2007
MINDEN – Jethro Bodine’s Beverly Hillbillies Mansion & Casino came one step closer to reality Thursday, when a zoning map amendment and gaming district overlay were approved by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.
“If it were just a casino I wouldn’t be for it, but it’s so much more than that,” said Commissioner Jim Baushke. “If it comes to fruition, it will include a conference center, hotel and retail space. If (developer Max Baer) can fill those conference rooms, it will mean a lot of revenue for a lot of people.
“We can argue the numbers all day long but the basic thing, if it’s built as proposed, it will be better for Douglas County than pure retail space.”
The vote was 3-2, with commissioners Doug Johnson and David Brady casting the two dissenting votes.
Johnson said he has never disagreed more with the board than he does now. There are numerous unrestricted gaming overlays in Douglas County where casinos have never been developed, but once approved, the zoning is permanent.
“If the casino does succeed, we don’t know what it will do for us financially,” he said. “If it’s a huge success, get ready for more.”
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Plans for the casino project include a 40,000-square-foot gaming area with 800 slot machines and 16 tables, a showroom, restaurants, cinema complex and two five-story, 240-room hotel towers.
Developer Max Baer Jr. still needs a variance for his proposed oil derrick and readerboard.
Commissioner Kelly Kite said the project was not his first choice, but the zoning was planned eight years ago.
“I see no reason to make a change,” he said.
Lyla Lane resident Jerry Vaccaro said the project was pushed through too quickly and there are a lot of unanswered questions. It doesn’t enhance the quality of life for Douglas County residents, he said.
“They can say they will be successful, but there’s no guarantee,” he said. “We’ve already given Riverwood (developers) $24.7 million in redevelopment funds because they say a lot of dirt needs to be moved and the site doesn’t accommodate what they are proposing.”
The casino has been integrated into the redevelopment agreement set to be approved at Thursday’s board of commissioners meeting, which transfers any property taxes from the property to Douglas County’s redevelopment agency rather than county coffers.
Discussions concerning an appeal over a proposed 200-foot oil derrick, sign area and the number of sign faces on the agenda for the proposed casino were continued to Dec. 6.
• Contact reporter Susie Vasquez at email@example.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.
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