Petition seeking to reverse Norfolk council’s casino vote has enough signatures, group says

Local News

A rendering of the Pamunkey Indian Tribes proposed Hotel and Casino next to Harbor Park in Norfolk.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Organizers behind a new petition to at least stall the proposed Norfolk casino say they have more than enough signatures to force City Council to vote on an ordinance to repeal an earlier land sale agreement for the casino site.

Citizens for an Informed Norfolk say they utilized Election Day crowds to gather more than 3,400 signatures, well above the 1,250 required by Section 31 of Norfolk’s city charter. If they’re validated, the petition be presented to council at their meeting on November 26.

This comes after an earlier petition to slow the process failed.

The group submitted the petition on Thursday to the Norfolk City Clerk’s office. They claim they’re not exactly “anti-casino,” but “pro-information and pro-transparency.”

“As petitioners, we created Informed Norfolk in order for residents to better understand and be informed about the impacts of a casino in Norfolk … we believe that independent analysis relative to net economic impacts, public safety, and public health impacts are needed to make an informed decision, said former City Council member and petitioner Nicole Carry in a press release. “We also want more understanding of the impacts of a tribal casino on sovereign land versus a commercial casino on land remaining under the jurisdiction of the City, Commonwealth and the US government.”

Though it seems unlikely council members will budge on their earlier vote in September to sell land on the Elizabeth City waterfront to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, it would give organizers nine months to gather 4,000 votes to force a city-wide vote on the casino.

“We know it is potentially a long process,” said petitioner Eric Hause. “But democracy takes time. We are willing to take the time and make this effort to ensure our city leaders uphold their vision of a people-centered, people-first Norfolk.”

This article will be updated.

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