The Pensacola Greyhound Track and Poker Room is looking to move its card room to a new location on Airport Boulevard after selling its long-standing property on Dog Track Road at the end of last year, but it will need to be done first. county approval.
The Poarch Creek Indian Tribe PCI Gaming Authority, which owns and operates the gaming facility as Pensacola Greyhound Racing LLP, is seeking a letter from Escambia County confirming pari-mutuel gambling is permitted in commercial areas.
The owners are looking to purchase a property at 366 Airport Blvd. just off Interstate 110, according to a note from attorneys for the county greyhound track obtained by the News Journal in a public record application.
Pari-mutuel is a type of game where players bet against each other, rather than against the house. Most types of poker games are considered pari-mutuel games.
The matter was submitted to the Escambia County Planning Council on Tuesday after it dueled the Greyhound Track attorney’s and county attorney’s office notes, which indicated that a planning code change territory would be needed.
End of races live:Pensacola Greyhound Track stops live dog racing
Dismantling of the sector plan:Why Escambia County is dismantling the sector plan that guides growth in the north
The county attorney’s memo says that while pari-mutuel is legal under the county ordinance, the county’s land use planning code does not specify in which zoning district this activity would be permitted and that a change before any new building can be approved.
The planning council discussed the issue on Tuesday and will vote in November on the recommendation of a new ordinance listing pari-mutuel gambling as conditional use or “de droit” use in commercial zoning to the county commission.
Pensacola Greyhound Track and Poker Room continues to rent out its old facility on Dog Track Road until it can build a new facility. The track sold its land in December to Herons Landing Development LLC for $ 3.25 million, according to county property records.
Before the amendment was passed, greyhound racing had to have a state pari-mutuel gambling license, but the amendment removed that requirement.
State law allows only one pari-mutuel gambling facility every 100 miles.
Attorney Will Dunaway, representing Pensacola Greyhound Racing LLP, told the Planning Council on Tuesday that the owners were looking to relocate because they didn’t need the old facility’s dog racing infrastructure because their activity now comes from poker games and betting on concurrent races from other states.
Dunaway said a change in the county ordinance was not necessary as it was already a commercial activity, stressing that other businesses such as ax throwing and scrapbooking were allowed, although ‘they are not specifically listed in the land use planning code.
Dunaway said all that was required of the county was to issue a letter verifying that the potential property was commercially zoned.
“(The letter) was not published because that use is a controversial use or a vice use, unlike an ax throwing or scrapbooking,” Dunaway said.
Director of Development Services Horace Jones said a close review by the county attorney’s office was carried out on the request and determined that a change in the county’s zoning was needed to allow the installation of to relocate.
The planning council discussed whether to list pari-mutuel gambling as a conditional use to allow for an additional layer of public notice on the matter, as this would require a hearing before the county board.
Dunaway said it will cause unnecessary delays that are pointless because Florida law only allows one pari-mutuel gambling establishment within a 100 mile radius, so changing the order would create all public notices. required.
“If there’s a problem, that’s when he’s going to come out,” Dunaway said. “You’ll only do it once.”
County staff informed council that the normal conditional use requirements provide criteria such as distance to the nearest school or neighborhood, but in this case, the state has already set the distance requirement. at 100 miles, it would therefore be difficult to write criteria that would allow it. be conditional use.
Jones said, however, that county staff would consider applying conditional-use criteria for commercial and light industrial zones in a draft ordinance for the next planning board, and council members could remove the ‘conditional use requirement if they don’t like the criteria.
“I think you’re on the right track with the way we’ve designed it now, as a recommendation to the County Commissioners Council,” Planning Council vice-chairman Tim Pyle said. “They can always choose to change it.”
The next planning board meeting is scheduled for November 2.
Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.