The secrecy and the stealth involved in bringing a casino to southern Rockingham County is one of the major complaints made by those in opposition.

The smart money says that the casino on 192 acres on US 220 a couple miles north of the Guilford County line was a done deal by the time the majority of the opponents found out about it.

The lack of public information about the proposed project was evident in the July 10 meeting of the Rockingham County Planning Board.  The Planning Board only makes a recommendation to the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners, but opponents to a rezoning request usually make their opposition known at Planning Board meetings.

However, when the 192 acres came up for rezoning at the July 10 meeting of the Rockingham County Planning Board, it was relatively quiet.  Fewer than 50 people attended the meeting, and prior to the meeting, according to Rockingham County Senior Planner Lynn Cochran, the Planning Department received three emails and four telephone calls inquiring about the rezoning request and four calls expressing concern.

There were seven speakers in opposition at the Planning Board meeting in comparison to nine speakers at the Monday, Aug. 7 meeting of the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners in opposition to the rezoning request, when the item was not even on the agenda.  Over 400 people attended a meeting on Monday, Aug. 1 at the Ellisboro Baptist Church in opposition to rezoning the land for a casino.

Cochran also told the Planning Board that they could not discuss the uses that were allowed in the requested Highway Commercial zoning district.

He read this statement to the board, “No consideration of individual uses may be involved in making the decision to recommend approval or denial of the request.”

However, in the North Carolina Supreme Court decision Hall v. City of Durham, the court overruled the rezoning by the Durham City Council because the City Council did not consider all the uses allowed in the zoning district.

A portion of that NC Supreme Court decision states, “We hold that when rezoning property from one general use district with fixed permitted uses to another general use district with fixed permitted uses, a city council must determine that the property is suitable for all uses permitted in the new general use district …”

So the Durham City Council rezoning was overruled because all the permitted uses were not considered while the Rockingham County Planning Board was told not to consider any of the individual permitted uses.