Tension between the Cordish Cos., which is planning a large slots parlor at Arundel Mills mall, and neighbors was evident when architects and engineers detailed the planned 200,000-square-foot casino during a presentation Wednesday night.
Residents object to the casino in their neighborhood, saying it will worsen existing traffic and crime problems.
Cordish says a groundbreaking for the slots parlor is just months away if county and state officials give final approvals for the casino design, which appears likely.
Joseph Weinberg, president of development at Baltimore-based Cordish, said the 4,750-slot machine facility, scheduled to open in late 2011, would operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. That drew criticism from residents.
"That's going to cause a lot of crime," said Shirley Dvorack of Severn.
Weinberg said he disagreed and pointed to his company's plans for a security system at the casino, which will be called Maryland Live!
He also said his company is examining the traffic situation, and the casino's construction would be done in phases to minimize impact.
The facility would be on 10 acres on the west side of Arundel Mills, which is now a parking lot, stretching from approximately the mall's food court to the Modell's sporting-goods store.
Construction is planned to begin first on a six- to eight-level parking garage that would accommodate about 4,300 cars.
A smaller valet parking lot will accommodate about 120 cars.
The casino will feature several restaurants and an entertainment venue with up to 400 seats.
Engineers from Bowman Consultants plan to present detailed information, including a traffic study, to Anne Arundel County officials Tuesday. State officials will also weigh in, and a final decision on the design will be made by May, according to Bowman engineer Pete Mellits.
Lore Peterson of Severn said that traffic is already a "huge issue" and that residents haven't been included in the Cordish traffic study.
"The traffic is huge," said Peterson. "It's the most important issue in this entire thing. We need people in the loop on that traffic study."
Cherisa Toomer, who lives nearby, said she's worried about more crime.
"Are you going to do something to secure the integrity of my neighborhood?" she asked.
Hundreds of neighbors around the mall have opposed plans for the casino since it was first pitched about a year ago.
The Maryland Jockey Club and a neighborhood group, Stop Slots at Arundel Mills, are collecting signatures in an effort to overturn local approval of the slots site through referendum.
Roger Grabinski, president of the Jessup Improvement Association, attempted to strike a conciliatory tone after declaring the meeting a "hostile environment."
Developer David Cordish "has to be able to deal with us," Grabinski said. "There's going to be a constant barrage back and forth. It's got to stop. It would behoove you to stick yourself out a little bit. If we're going to have this, he needs to prove to the community that he'll be a good neighbor."