The request to rezone 192 acres on US 220 in Rockingham County just north of the Guilford County line to a zoning district that would make a gambling casino a permitted use comes before the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Aug. 21.
The meeting in the Commissioners Chambers at the Governmental Center in Wentworth begins at 6:30 p.m. and a large crowd of those opposing the rezoning is expected.
Opponents to allowing a casino on this site next to Camp Carefree have asked for more than the 30 minutes set aside for them to speak.
The 192 acre site is currently zoned Residential Agricultural, and the request is to rezone the property to Highway Commercial, which would allow any use permitted in the Highway Commercial zoning district.
However, it is only one of those uses, “Electronic Gaming Operations,” that has created the massive opposition to the rezoning request.
The applicant for the rezoning request, NC Development Holdings LLC, is associated with The Cordish Companies, which operates casinos.
A casino at that site would be illegal under current North Carolina law, and no bill has been introduced in the state legislature to change that law. However, both state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and President Pro Tem of the Senate Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) have state publicly that they are in favor of legislation to allow more casinos in North Carolina. A draft of a bill floating around Raleigh lists three counties in which casinos would be allowed – Rockingham, Anson and Nash.
It is widely believed that the essence of that draft bill will be included in the state budget bill, which is expected to be passed in September.
There was little opposition to the rezoning request when it came before the Rockingham County Planning Board on July 10, and the Planning Board with little discussion voted 5-2 to recommend denial of the rezoning request.
However, since that meeting, when those living in the area discovered that the plan was to legalize casino gambling in Rockingham County and turn this 192 acre site into a casino complex, the opposition has grown with hundreds of people attending a meeting to oppose a casino on that site and reportedly thousands signing a petition in opposition to a casino.
While there was little discussion at the Rockingham County Planning Board meeting, there is expected to be a great deal of discussion at the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners meeting.