A resolution which received unanimous support from Roanoke Rapids City Council Wednesday night will be passed on to state lawmakers in hopes to sway them that a casino should be located in the Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District.
City Manager Kelly Traynham said in a document on the proposed ordinance related to the resolution that, “The North Carolina General Assembly continues to discuss the possibility of legalizing gambling casinos as part of an effort to incentivize rural tourism in Tier 1, economically distressed, counties.”
Traynham said in the document that Carolina Crossroads, where the former Roanoke Rapids Theatre is located, is already in place with all infrastructure and current land use that allows for hotels, restaurants, casinos, and other similar attractions.
Adoption of the resolution, she wrote, is a demonstration of the city’s support of the legislation with hopes it will be identified as a casino location.
The resolution begins by saying, “Halifax County is a Tier One economically distressed county along the Interstate 95 corridor, halfway between New York and Florida.”
The resolution notes that state lawmakers are considering legislation to allow casino and gaming operations in specific North Carolina locations to support tourism and economic growth.
“The Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District is located along the Interstate 95 corridor and provides an excellent location for a casino and gaming operations,” the resolution says, continuing that, “The Carolina Crossroads Entertainment District is a shovel-ready development with all infrastructure in place and current land use that allows for hotels, water parks, restaurants, casinos and other similar attractions.”
The resolution says that the city council “feels that the jobs and investment as a result of the project will generate increased tax and other revenues for the city of Roanoke Rapids and all of Halifax County and stimulate significant employment opportunities for our citizens.”
Councilman Wayne Smith made the motion to adopt the resolution on a second by Carl Ferebee.
“Having spent some time in the General Assembly (from) 1969 to 1971, it’s not over until it’s over,” said Bill White, a Roanoke Rapids attorney, when asked for an update on the legislative process.
White is representing the investment group that includes Weldon Mills Distillery, the new owners of the theater, and the group that requested the land use zoning amendment to allow casinos before a joint meeting of the city’s planning board and council last week.
“Everybody can read what they want to read, but these guys have been in session since January,” White said. “If this wasn’t still a possibility, the budget would be passed and they’d be adjourned.”
White said the adoption of the resolution, which Halifax County commissioners will consider next week, was encouraging for his clients. “The word we have is they’re wanting the municipalities and the county to be supporting each other. You wouldn’t want a small community to try to `create an entertainment district in a county that didn’t want to support it.”