Hastings City Council to vote on casino proposal
UPDATED STORY: Council votes 6-2 to approve the casino and horse track
HASTINGS, NE — Eight months after shutting down a zoning request to allow for the construction of a casino, the Hastings City Council will consider the request again.
The council voted 4-4 against the request from Prairie Thunder LLC in March. The land attached to the proposal is immediately north of Walmart on Highway 281. Now, the group has tweaked its proposal by dropping the land that needs rezoned from 50 to 38 acres and moving the race track and casino to the middle of the property. The developers originally needed a supermajority of council members to vote for the project because enough area landowners opposed the project. Thanks to the tweaks, the developers only need a simple majority to pass the requests. If it’s a 4-4 vote, Mayor Corey Stutte would serve as the tiebreaker.
Here was the original vote by the council: Yes - Matt Fong, Shawn Hartmann, Butch Eley, Ted Schroeder. No - Chuck Rosenberg, Joy Huffaker, Ginny Skutnik, Jeniffer Beahm.
After making the adjustments, the Planning Commission flipped its vote from 4-3 against it to 7-2 in favor of recommending the project. Skutnik cited the planning commission’s initial decision when announcing her no vote back in March.
“My deep respect for the planning commission, our staff and our comprehensive plan - I cannot vote for this,” Skutnik said.
Skutnik and Rosenberg lost reelection bids last week while Fong was reelected. Schroeder didn’t run for reelection and the rest of the council members weren’t up for election.
A coordinated write-in campaign opposing the casino gathered 700 letters from 705 Adams County residents. The letters were submitted to the council. Separately, about 225 other letters were received by the council and most voiced opposition.
Nebraska’s first casino is currently open in Lincoln. A temporary casino at Fonner Park in Grand Island is set to open before the end of the year. The city council meeting starts at 5:30.