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Yarborough on Monument Road Poker Room

The following is Councilman Clay Yarborough's monthly letter to residents, as published in the September edition of Arlington Monthly.  It addresses the Monument Road Poker Room.

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Dear Neighbor,

In the August edition of Arlington Monthly, I made you aware of what I knew about the proposal by Jacksonville Kennel Club (JKC) to convert the Garden Ridge at 201 Monument Road into a Poker Room. I also shared that the matter did not require approval by the City Council, though there has been a new development.

On August 22, Mr. Paul Harden, an attorney/agent for JKC, notified me that he was filing a re-zoning request with the City to change the zoning on a portion of the property in order to make it more compatible with JKC’s preferred gambling operation. Surprised by this, I conveyed to Mr. Harden that I met with Mr. Howard Korman (President of JKC) on August 1 and was told no significant City-level approvals were needed. Mr. Harden then acknowledged Mr. Korman thought that was the case.

The proposed Poker Room site has two zoning districts assigned to it. The eastern half, on which the building is located, is zoned CCG-1. The western half, mostly parking lot and frontage along Monument Road, is zoned CCG-2. The acronyms stand for Commercial Community, General 1 and 2, respectively, and are the broadest commercial districts in the city. Among other uses, the CCG-1 district allows for indoor facilities operated by a licensed pari-mutuel permit holder; however, without special approval of a CCG-1 “exception,” a pari-mutuel may not sell or serve every type of alcoholic beverage, which JKC would like to do. Under CCG-2, no exception is required for the sale and service of all alcoholic beverages as long as they are sold and served in conjunction with food ordered from a menu. In short, JKC is seeking to make the entire property CCG-2 so that it may operate with little restriction.

Although it is still unknown whether the facility might operate 14-18 hours per day during the week and 24 hours per day on the weekend, it is well-known that there is a grade school, public library, and residential apartments all within 1,000 feet of the building, and a nursing home (The Atrium) down the next block, not to mention other businesses and Regency Mall in close proximity.
All re-zonings require City Council approval. The Poker Room re-zoning legislation (Ordinance 2011-585) is scheduled to be added to the Council’s agenda on September 13.

It will then have a public hearing (no vote) at the October 11 Council meeting, be heard by and receive a recommendation from the City’s Planning Commission on October 13, and have a public hearing in front of the Council’s Land Use & Zoning Committee on October 18 (with recommendation vote to full Council). It is then set to be before the full Council for a final vote on October 25, if there are no delays.

I will be hosting a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, October 4, at 6:30pm at Terry Parker High School to hear input from the community regarding the Poker Room and re-zoning request. Please plan to attend and bring a neighbor. Also, below is a list of all other Council Members and their contact information.

When 2011-585 comes to the full Council, every Member is expected to cast a vote. Email or call them in advance of the public hearings and meetings to let them know what is best for the Regency area and Arlington.

On a concluding note, the Council is preparing to vote on the City’s annual budget at the end of September.

A public meeting will be held on Monday, September 19, at 6:30pm at Regency Library regarding the budget and general District 1 issues (not including Poker Room).
I look forward to seeing you.

Clay Yarborough
City Councilman, District 1

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