State law trumps mayor on keno

December 13, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown had hoped to propose local restrictions on keno and other gambling at tomorrow night's City Council meeting, but state law folded his hand before he had a chance to play it.

On the advice of City Attorney John B. Walsh Jr., Mr. Brown abandoned his plans to recommend that gambling be made a special exception requiring a Zoning Board of Appeals hearing.

Mr. Walsh cited a 1988 attorney general's opinion that said municipal corporations lack the authority to permit or regulate gambling that is authorized by the state.

The council will meet at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than usual, in the Westminster Fire Hall on East Main Street.

Examples of state-authorized gambling include the Maryland lottery, off-track betting and the controversial new keno game scheduled to start Jan. 4.

Mr. Brown said his proposal was a reaction to the planned keno games, which were proposed by Gov. William Donald Schaefer in September as a way to help ease a projected $450 million state budget deficit. The proposal would have required establishments that wanted to offer keno to pay a $1,000 fee and win a special exception from the city zoning appeals board.

"I tend to feel that the state is coming to depend more and more on gambling revenue. Before they turn us into Las Vegas East, I think the local people should have some say," the mayor said.

Other issues the council will discuss at tomorrow's meeting include whether to share the cost of a county-proposed traffic study of the Route 97 corridor along the air business center. A decision on the cost-sharing request from the county Industrial Development Authority (IDA) is scheduled later in the evening.

Last month, county Planning Director Edmund R. Cueman urged the council to contribute to the study, which he said is needed to identify ways to relieve traffic congestion as the air business center develops.

The IDA has pledged $25,000 toward the study. Mr. Cueman said he did not know the total cost.

The council is also scheduled to study Westminster's first proposed landscaping requirements for new development. The regulations would require residential and commercial developers to plant trees, shrubs, flowers or grasses in new residential subdivisions of more than two lots, commercial, office and industrial developments.

Residential subdivisions where lots are five acres or larger would be exempt.

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