Monday, October 05, 2009

Slots and Reality Don’t Mix

By Rob Annicelli.

There is a problem with the proposed slots casino at Arundel Mills which goes beyond just the idea of gambling at a family friendly location. Using free internet-based tools we demonstrated that the photos submitted by Cordish Cos. to the State Video Lottery Facility Location Commission do not reflect current reality. They used these outdated photos to make the claim that the region around Arundel Mills is a “relatively low population” region.

When asked to verify their photo and statistics, they claimed that the photos were accurate, and confirmed to the Washington Post that their photos support their statistics – a photo which when you look at next to the 2007 Google Earth overhead photo (latest one I could find on the internet) you can see it is clearly outdated and taken on an earlier date. You can see this by the development which had occurred since the Cordish photo was taken, and that photo is from 2007! They claimed only 63 “residential units” exist within ½ mile of Arundel Mills – probably based upon that old photo. We have evidence based upon research from Google Earth and calling local developments that over 2100 “residential units” exist today within ½ mile of Arundel Mills, including houses, townhouses, condos, and apartments. In an era of handheld GPS there is no excuse for this. Take a look at the photos of this fast growing region for yourself.

Undated Cordish Cos. Photo of Region Submitted to State.

Feb 28, 2007 Google Earth Photo of Region.

July 13th, 2009 Photo from airplane leaving BWI. (View would be looking from top-right of other images – casino site would be about where the white X is next to the Mall building.)

They also should have known of this error given the fact the Mr. Weinberg and crew attended a community meeting on February 25th 2009 in a building not shown in their overhead photo. On April 2nd 2009 he told the County Council he thought the area is “Urban” in nature, but later said the area has “relatively low population.” Their partner Simon Corp., owner of the mall, has been long aware of all of the surrounding homes by virtue of the recorded restrictive covenants entered into with the neighboring developers about 10 years ago. I am sure they also occasionally drive by the homes on their way to work.

Cordish also initially submitted traffic studies to the State Commission which did not account for projected BRAC traffic at nearby Ft Meade, and claimed Saturday at noon to be peak traffic on the local roadways. The State Commission told them to “try again” and resubmit the traffic study to show the real peak traffic time. Again, all you need to do is drive the roads in the area at 5pm on most weekdays to see their peak traffic assumptions were incorrect. But somehow these companies which claim to know the area seem to be displaying their ignorance of the region with every study or report they make public.

It seems as if their proposal submitted on February 3rd to the State was slapped together without concern for neighboring communities, or the restrictive covenants Arundel Mills is bound by. The County Council has looked out for the resident’s best interests by doing their due diligence on the zoning change request. Now it is time for either the State or the County Council to step up and say enough is enough and dismiss the proposal.

Rob Annicelli is President of Stop Slots at Arundel Mills.