COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Mayor Michael Coleman is looking for legal authority to regulate a private casino project that he wants removed from a high-profile downtown neighborhood.
Coleman said the casino location in the city's Arena District is unacceptable and that the neighborhood needs to remain a family
district. The district features a new minor league ballpark and new condos near Nationwide Arena, home to the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
Coleman told The Columbus Dispatch in an interview published Thursday that he will ask the city attorney for an opinion on the city's legal authority over casino development.
Ohio voters on Nov. 3 approved a constitutional amendment that allows casinos in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Toledo. The amendment also specified the neighborhoods where the casinos would be built.
Coleman acknowledged that it's unclear how much control the city may be able to exert.
"We have to follow the law, whatever that is," he said.
A majority of voters in Columbus and Franklin County, which includes the city, rejected the casino ballot issue.
Bob Tenenbaum, a spokesman for Penn National Gaming Inc., a co-developer of the casino project, said developers want to cooperate with local officials.
But in their draft of proposed legislation to implement the constitutional amendment, developers call for casinos to be subject only to local health and building codes. It also prevents local zoning rules from stopping casino development, and it would bar
actions that "unduly burden" casinos. It doesn't define that term, however.
"It's probably one of those things, you know it when you see it," Tenenbaum said.
Gov. Ted Strickland has said he will veto any casino bill that doesn't protect local governments' ability to regulate the projects.
In a separate move, a group of central Ohio lawmakers are pushing a plan for a constitutional amendment that would let cities
opt out of hosting a casino by passing a local referendum.