Danville Planning Commission recommends creation of casino district

In another step closer to a casino in the city, the Danville Planning Commission approved the amendment of the zoning ordinances to include a new zoning district for casino entertainment.

The commission voted to amend Chapter 41 of the city code to add article 3.V Casino Entertainment (C-E). The article addresses the district purpose, permitted uses, uses permitted by special use permit, lot size requirements, bulk regulations, parking, exterior lighting, signs, noise, landscape and open space and additional requirements.

Danville Planning Division Director Doug Plachcinski said he worked with Caesars and Steven Gould, a local lawyer representing the company, to develop the details of the district.

Those details include the permitted uses as an entertainment establishment and/or casino gaming establishment including accessory uses, buildings, and structures customarily subordinate, incidental and on the premises of such establishment, such as but not limited to, a hotel and conference center.

A C-E district must be a minimum of 75 acres, with the minimum lot area being 25 acres.

The maximum building height is 250 feet, but buildings 200 feet or taller must be set back from any non-building structures that are 200 feet or taller by at least 100 feet. Buildings under 200 feet tall must be set back from those non-building structures by at least 50 feet.

While the district requirements and guidelines are not set to adhere to any one development, the “non-building structures” in mind in this case are the smokestacks that are on the Schoolfield site currently, where Caesars plans to build its casino resort.

With these requirements, the smokestacks, which the public has expressed interest in keeping on the site, will not be crowded to where they cannot be seen.

The district requirements do not include minimum off-street parking space requirements, but requires electric vehicle parking of at least 10 spaces.

Casino gaming establishments have “unique needs” for lighting, according to the district details. However, it still must not interfere with any public roadways and comply with the code of Virginia. Upwardly directed lighting can be used to illuminate buildings, structures and landscapes, and awnings can be internally illuminated.

Searchlights must avoid directing a beam at any building, and they cannot operate between midnight and 5 p.m.

For noise, the exterior noise limits cannot exceed 70 dBA between 9 a.m. and 12 a.m., when measured at the property line of a residential zone.

Landscaped buffers will be used along property lines next to a residential zoning district.

In addition, building exteriors must be covered in durable materials and vinyl siding is prohibited. Dumpsters viable from public roadways must be screened.

The district recommendation will be taken to city council for approval in May. If approved, Caesars would have to request their property at Schoolfield to be zoned for the C-E district.