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Council fires a shot at Foxwoods

It unanimously overrides Street veto of bill changing zoning designation

City Council yesterday unanimously overrode Mayor Street's veto of a zoning bill aimed at blocking the development of the Foxwoods Casino in South Philadelphia.

The new law changes the zoning classification of the 16-acre property at Columbus Boulevard and Reed Street from commercial to residential status.

Street had vetoed the bill, sponsored by Councilman Frank DiCicco, because the city solicitor had concluded that it was illegal in its purpose.

Maureen Garrity, a spokeswoman for Foxwoods, said the bill amounted to "illegal spot zoning." The gaming company will evaluate a number of options, she said, including legal action.

Asked whether he thought the new zoning provision will face legal difficulties, DiCicco said, "I think we will have a difficult time . . . but I think it's just another opportunity to slow this process down."

Meanwhile, with the casino-ballot question asking voters effectively dead, DiCicco yesterday introduced a bill that would achieve the same aim, prohibiting casinos within 1,500 feet of churches and schools. The bill does not allow developers to seek variances from its provisions.

In other business,

* Council approved a bill authored by Darrell Clarke that sets standards for vendors seeking contracts by requiring an "economic opportunity plan."

Clarke said that for businesses owned by minorities, women, and the disabled, the legislation will help ensure improved opportunities to gain city contract work.

If a vendor doesn't include a plan, "then you are non-responsive and won't be reviewed by the Procurement Department," he said.

* Also approved by Council was a bill authored by Councilman James Kenney and others that will ensure prevailing wages for building service and security workers on future developments.

* Meanwhile, Mayor Street signed a package of eight gun-control bills sponsored by Clarke and Councilwoman Donna Miller that attempt to control straw purchases, and related gun-control measures. The bills require state enabling legislation, which so far has not been forthcoming.

Clarke said he filed notice to state legislative leaders that he intends to sue them to wrest authority to legislate in the area of gun control from the commonwealth. *