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Pomona Agrees to Expand Study of Proposed Card Club

October 27, 1994|DEBORAH SULLIVAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In a settlement with four neighboring municipalities, the city of Pomona has agreed to expand the scope of an environmental impact report on its card club proposal.

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Also as part of the accord, Pomona officials will suspend changes to two city ordinances that would pave the way for card clubs until the EIR is completed.

In return, the cities of La Verne, Claremont, Chino and Chino Hills have agreed to drop a lawsuit they filed in July against the card club proposal.

"The city of Pomona has made its commitment to conduct a full EIR," City Atty. Arnold Alvarez-Glasman said. "And the city has agreed it will not take any action to approve or disapprove card clubs while the EIR is being completed. And the third part is, we have agreed to expand the EIR to review the ordinances that were previously adopted, to review the individual card club proposals and to examine environmental issues that may occur to surrounding cities."

Pomona already has prepared a draft environmental impact report that is in the early stages of a 45-day public review period, Alvarez-Glasman said. Public hearings will be held in late November, and the report should be completed in December, he said.

City attorneys for all five cities drafted the agreement, which has not yet been approved. The five city councils will probably vote on it by mid-November, La Verne City Manager Martin Lomeli said.

The dispute arose earlier this year when Pomona pursued plans to open two card club casinos; one at the fairgrounds and another along the Pomona Freeway. When neighboring cities complained, Pomona agreed to do an EIR in June, Alvarez-Glasman said.

But the report fell short of the neighboring cities' expectations. They filed suit in July, demanding a full environmental impact report on the proposal, claiming the card clubs might clog traffic, generate noise and bring crime to the area.

In the settlement, Pomona agreed to perform an expanded EIR, which will examine alternative sites, analyze effects on transportation facilities and identify measures that could reduce negative impacts of the card clubs, Lomeli said.

"This thorough analysis will help us all understand what implications Pomona's proposal has on our citizens," Lomeli said.

Pomona also agreed to pay a portion of the cities' attorney fees, Lomeli said. He said he could not estimate the dollar amount, but said it would probably be half or more of the total costs.

While the EIR is being completed, Pomona agreed to suspend an amendment to the city's business license ordinance updating a 1964 gaming law, and another amendment to the zoning ordinance that permits card clubs in areas zoned for light industry and at the fairgrounds, Alvarez-Glasman said.

The city has not, however, settled a related suit filed by a Pomona citizens group demanding that the council put the card club proposal up for public vote.

Alvarez-Glasman said that although the council considered putting the measure on the ballot several months ago, it later chose not to, deciding that a 1964 ordinance already authorized card clubs in the city without a public vote.

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