Anne Arundel, Md., vote on slots zoning postponed

By John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Zoning legislation for Maryland's largest proposed slots casino will be back on the agenda Dec. 21 after the Anne Arundel County Council postponed a vote Monday at a meeting that ran until nearly midnight.

After hearing testimony from about 100 people, the council decided to delay a decision once more on whether to allow a 4,750-machine slots casino at the Arundel Mills mall in Hanover.

The council deliberations followed a 5 to 2 vote by a state panel to grant a slots license to Cordish Cos., the Baltimore-based developers of the proposed mall casino, contingent on zoning approval by the county.

The debate over zoning legislation has paralyzed the council for months, and several members expressed regret about the latest delay.

But they said they could not justify taking a vote when only four of the seven council seats were filled.

"At this moment, about half of Anne Arundel County is not represented," said council member James Benoit (D-Crownsville), a slots opponent.

Two of the council absences were expected: Joshua J. Cohen (D-Annapolis) was sworn in earlier in the day as mayor of Annapolis. And C. Edward Middlebrooks (R-Severn) announced last week that he would recuse himself from consideration of the zoning bill.

It was not anticipated that Tricia L. Johnson (R-Davidsonville) would be missing as well. Audience members were told that she had gone to the hospital for heart palpitations.

Johnson is expected to be back, and Cohen's successor should be seated by Dec. 21. Six people have applied for the spot. The current council members are scheduled to make the selection Dec. 17.

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