Citizens of Norfolk, who have been hoping to make city leaders rethink their approval of a land deal that could bring a potential waterfront casino resort, have employed a different approach to address the situation.
Despite they failed to get enough signatures on the petition that would force a referendum vote on the decision for the deal, local campaigners decided to turn to a provision under which they are allowed to introduce a new ordinance which would annul the previous one. The Citizens of an Informed Norfolk Committee, a local group of five residents, filed a petition with the local Circuit Court in an effort to see a new ordinance unveiled. The petition was filed by Nicole Carry on behalf of the group that believes that a deal allowing a casino establishment in the city is a monumental decision for the local community.
The work to overturn the decision started immediately after the Norfolk City Council gave the nod to a deal with the Pamunkey Indian Tribe on September 24th, 2019. Under the agreement, the tribe has been granted the chance to purchase a piece of land in close proximity to Harbor Park to establish a casino resort complex. The gambling venue project is worth $700 million and needs to get an approval both from the state and the federal governments before any construction works start on-site.
At the time when the vote took place, councilwoman Andria McClellan was the only Norfolk City Council member who did not back the measure. Since then, she has joined efforts with the campaigners seeking to reverse the decision.
This the First-Ever Ordinance Filed Under That Section
The anti-casino group needed to gather a total of 4,000 signatures within 30 days of the ordinance’s adoption so that they are able to force a ballot on the issue. They were only 320 short from the necessary amount at the end of the 30-day period, so they were unable to force the desired referendum.
This weekend, however, they found a charter section under which Norfolk voters are able to bring forward various initiatives. According to a clerk of the Norfolk Circuit Court, this is the first-ever petition that has been filed under that section.
Under the above-mentioned charter section, the anti-casino campaigners will have 120 days from the date of the first signature to gather a total of 1,250 signatures and file them to initiate a formal proposal. Then, the City Council would have a vote on the new ordinance after a public hearing on a proposal is held. In case that the motion is rejected or the City Council does not act on it within 30 days, the campaigners would be given the chance to once again initiate a referendum by collecting 4,000 signatures from the local community.
The anti-casino committee claims that not enough due diligence has been done by the city and the City Council rushed the process without providing the wider public with enough information on the matter. The group is not necessarily against the establishment of a waterfront casino in Norfolk.