Nutter revokes casino license
Mayor Nutter yesterday revoked a license given to the SugarHouse Casino at the tail end of the Street administration. The city Commerce Department in November ruled that the casino project, planned for the Delaware River waterfront in Fishtown, could build on the banks of the river atop what is known as "riparian land."
Mayor Nutter yesterday revoked a license given to the SugarHouse Casino at the tail end of the Street administration.
The city Commerce Department in November ruled that the casino project, planned for the Delaware River waterfront in Fishtown, could build on the banks of the river atop what is known as "riparian land."
But Nutter yesterday said the decision had been rushed and not properly vetted.
"This was a highly controversial process and the license was rushed through the end of the last mayor's term," Nutter said.
Nutter said that SugarHouse may re-apply for the license within 30 days but that there must be a more complete hearing the second time around.
SugarHouse developer Greg Carlin said he was prepared to fight the decision.
"We are disappointed by these actions and will seek the appropriate relief immediately," he said.
State Gaming Control chairwoman Mary DiGiacomo Colins said SugarHouse needs riparian rights to open.
"The issue of riparian rights is one of the conditions of their license that relates to when they can open and operate slot machines," Colins said. "That issue would have to be resolved before they could operate as a licensee."
The issue of who gets to grant riparian rights has been up for debate for some time. In riparian rights, landowners adjacent to a body of water - in this case, the Delaware - have the right to make reasonable use of the land.
Nutter yesterday insisted it was the perogative of the city, but a group of lawmakers have petitioned the state Supreme Court, saying that the state has power over riparian rights.
State Rep. Mike O'Brien - who has the SugarHouse site in his district - said the suit will proceed. But he praised Nutter for revoking the license.
"John Street is gone," O'Brien said. "There is no more nod-nod, wink-wink. Now they have to be legitimate developers. You have a mayor who honors the code, honors the process, honors the law. Let's do away with the skulduggery."
O'Brien said he'd consider introducing legislation to give SugarHouse the riparian rights if the developers come up with a community-benefits agreement with neighbors.
In other casino developments yesterday, legislation was introduced on behalf of Councilman Frank DiCicco about the proposed Foxwoods Casino in South Philadelphia.
Essentially, DiCicco offered to give Foxwoods the zoning designation it needs if it agrees to some conditions - like improvements to public safety and traffic, and an economic-impact study.
DiCicco was not in Council yesterday, but said in a statement that he was trying to help the neighborhood.
"I think if you look at this legislation, you'll see what a high bar we have set, and people will realize I'm still fighting for these neighborhoods," he said.
Foxwoods spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said the developers were reviewing DiCicco's bills. *