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Number of Homes Near Arundel Slots Site Disputed

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The leader of a group fighting slot machines at Arundel Mills Mall said the developer of a proposed casino has dramatically understated the number of homes nearby.

In a presentation to a state commission last month, Cordish Cos. said only 63 housing units were within half a mile of the mall, where the Baltimore-based company has bid to put 4,750 slot machines.

In a letter this week to the chairman of the commission, Robert F. Annicelli of Stop Slots At Arundel Mills calls that figure "inaccurate and misleading" -- and says the true total is at least 2,125.

The impact of a slots casino on the surrounding community has been central to the debate over the proposed Anne Arundel location.

Annicelli attributes the lower number proffered by Cordish to an outdated overhead photo that is also included in the company's presentation. His letter to Commission Chairman Donald C. Fry includes a Google Earth image of the rapidly developing area, with new residential areas labeled.

Joe Weinberg, a principle with Cordish, maintained that the company's presentation was accurate. He said it was based on 2008 information obtained from a professional demographics service provider.

"Aerial mapping also supports the demographic service report," Weinberg said.

In its presentation, Cordish used the housing figures to bolster its argument that slots at Arundel Mills would impact fewer homeowners than at Laurel Park racetrack, which until early this year was considered the leading contender for a slots license in Anne Arundel.

"Any way you look at it, there are a lot more people in the radii around Laurel Park," Weinberg said.

The state commission, which is awarding licenses for five slots sites authorized last year by Maryland voters, is scheduled to meet again next week. The commission is expected to get an update from staff on the status of Arundel Mills proposal.

By John Wagner  |  October 2, 2009; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Slots  
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