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Hundreds attend Gettysburg casino hearing

Richard D. L. Fulton
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(4/6) Hundreds of area residents, elected officials and representatives of Crossroads Casino & Spa filled the ballroom of Gettysburg College's student union building April 5 to participate in or observe the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's (PGCB) hearing on the casino proposal.

People on both sides of the issue claimed to represent the majority opinion. PGCB held the hearing in conjunction with Crossroads' application for an operating license for a gambling facility to be located in Straban Township on Route 30 near the U.S. 15 interchange.

The plans call for an initial 3,000 slots in the controversial casino, with a future expansion to 5,000. The facility's proximity to the notable Civil War battlefield has caused a furor among residents and historic preservation groups, who want PGCB to deny the project.

David LeVan, a managing partner in Battlefield Harley Davidson, is the chief executive officer of Crossroads Gaming, the casino license applicant.

LeVan, Crossroads CEO, was permitted to open the hearing with a presentation on the proposed casino project.

Telling those attending the hearing that he had carefully considered the project before committing to it, LeVan said he felt the proposal provides "the best economic opportunity for this (Adams) county." LeVan reviewed what he believed would be the economic benefits to the region of having a casino in Adams County.

In a comment aimed at those who have challenged the siting of the facility as infringing on the historical integrity of the area, he said, "No part of this property is hallowed ground."

Adams County Commissioner Lucy Lott asked the board to deny Crossroads' requested license. "Please do not let down thousands of citizens in Adams County … slots do not belong (here)," she concluded after questioning the claims about a positive impact on the area.

County Commissioner Tom Weaver spoke on behalf of the proposed casino, stating that the board "will be hard pressed to find a better applicant." Weaver challenged polls take by opponents, calling them "questionable," and stated, "The majority of citizens of Adams County support this proposal."

Stephen R. Maitland (Republican-Adams County), told the gaming panel that despite the promises made by Crossroads to the region regarding economic benefits, the "voters of Adams County reject it … they (Crossroads) do not have hard evidence of a majority of support in this county."

Adams County Commissioner R. Glenn Snyder said he could not endorse the casino without an agreement that $10 million each year would remain allocated to Adams County and Adams County agencies. "This could be a good economic project if the money stayed in Adams County," he stated.

Earlier this week, the Gettysburg Board of Supervisors voted 6-3 to support the casino project after Crossroads reached a $2 million "ironclad agreement" with the town.

According to the PGCB, another related hearing will be held April 7 in Harrisburg, and another hearing on May 17 at Gettysburg College. The announcement of these hearings seemed to catch a number of individuals off-guard and no additional information concerning them was available before press time.

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