ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Natchez City Planner Bob Nix and preservation committee chairperson Marty Seibert, left, listen as architect Edward A. Vance discusses plans for the soon-to-be Magnolia Bluffs Casino during the Natchez Preservation Commission meeting Wednesday night at the Natchez City Council Chambers. Further discussion of the casino will be held in a preservation meeting Jan. 12.

Casino approval in limbo

Published 12:03am Thursday, December 15, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Preservation Commission heard a presentation, voiced concerns and ultimately delayed any action Wednesday night on the proposed Roth Hill casino.

The commission unanimously voted to continue the public hearing on the Magnolia Bluffs Casino design approval to its next meeting on Jan. 11. The commission’s vote also required the casino’s developers, Premier Gaming, to have work sessions with members of the Historic Natchez Foundation to work on a design more compatible with Natchez’s historical architecture.

Only a handful of seats in the Natchez City Council Chambers were empty as several concerns about the casino’s overall design, lighting, landscape and the general approval process were voiced by both commissioners and

nearly 50 people, Paris Winn, center, and Alderman Dan Dillard, right, attended the meeting Wednesday.

community members.

The casino’s architect Ed A. Vance made a Powerpoint presentation at the meeting showing design plans for the casino. Vance, Premier Gaming Group’s President Kevin Preston and project manager Dennis McAvoy fielded questions from the audience and commissioners.

Vance’s presentation indicated changes from the previously approved casino, including less cypress siding, fewer windows and a porte cochére that is no longer gabled as it was in previous plans.

Natchez resident Gwen Ball said the building was not what Natchezians had waited for as she questioned why all the changes had been made since the public last saw casino design plans. Ball said she suspected the changes were made to lower project costs and would like developers to remember that the casino site is treasured because it is the last remaining public riverfront property.

“When you do your design work, I want to see you give us the best you can give us,” she said. “I don’t care what it costs you … we’re making sacrifices so you can have it for your profits.”

Ed Gaudet said he was concerned that the light from the casino would be dangerous to boats and barges traveling along the river. He asked Vance if the project had received the adequate approval from the U.S. Coast Guard, and Vance said it had.

Larry “Butch” Brown said he was under the impression from a source he has in Jackson that the Coast Guard had not given approval and noted several other concerns in the casino’s approval process.

Architect Edward A. Vance discusses plans for the casino.

“I’m not saying I’m for or against you,” he said. “I’m looking for information, as I’m going to be a (mayoral) candidate in a few months, and I don’t want to inherit this problem.”

Commission members also voiced concerns about landscaping and the visibility and design of the parking garage and service truck entrances and mechanical structures.

Vance said changes were made to the design of the casino, as always happens with large projects, because parts of the previous plans “just didn’t work.” Vance noted that the building’s roof was modeled after barns in Minnesota, where he is from.

Commissioner Shirley Petkovsek said she did not understand why the previous plans were not adequate.

“You thought that they worked before, but now you don’t?” she asked Vance. “We were ready to go with the building we had approved.”

Commissioner Tony DeAngelis said he did not understand why the developers scrapped the previous design that the commission had approved only to start over.

All the commissioners agreed that there was not sufficient information about design aspects nor did they feel comfortable with the casino’s design, and Liz Dantone made the motion to continue the hearing.

“My main concern is that . . . this is historic Natchez, and it should be designed according to historic Natchez not to North Dakota or Minnesota … it should be what we want to look at and what people here will want to look at,” Commissioner Valencia Hall said.

Dantone asked McAvoy how far continuing the hearing would put the project behind.

McAvoy said the project had received approval for pile caps for the garage pilings and pin piles for the casino from building inspector Fred Galler and could continue that work.

Nix said he was only aware of one permit the project had for pilings for the parking garage’s foundation. Nix said because of the complexity and large scale of the project, code permit applications have been being sent to the International Code Council in Chicago because the planning department does not have the specifically qualified staff to approve the permits.

“Our internal procedures may have been violated, and I am very concerned with that,” he said.

Nix said after the meeting he would look into the matter and see what permits had been granted.

In other news from the meeting:

- The commission unanimously voted to deny the installation of dryer exhaust vents at the proposed coin laundry service in the old Goodyear building on Main Street. The commission also required the laundry service’s developers to repair and restore the 16 holes that were knocked into the building for the vents.

  • Anonymous

    Gone with the Wind bunch is holding up another business deal. They never give it up, I think Sleepy Hollow is what they would love to have more than new jobs….what a joke.

  • Anonymous

    “The commission unanimously voted to deny the installation of dryer exhaust vents at the proposed coin laundry service in the old Goodyear building on Main Street.”  GOOD! A laundry mat on Main street just doesn’t go. Might as well put a trailer house in the parking lot if we’re going to have a laundry mat on Main Street.

  • Anonymous

    Can you imagine what it would look like if they didn’t enforce any sign ordinance?  Well, actually, I guess you can.  All they are asking is a more proper exhaust design. You can’t just slap 16 exhausts 4 feet from a house and think no big deal, “it’s zoned commercial”.  The business is allowed; the design was incompatible.

  • Anonymous

    Or better yet just let it sit there and rot down as other buildings have on main st.

  • Anonymous

    One would have thought the all knowing  (npc) would have suggested a way to make the vents neighbor friendly instead of running them out of the building. but oh no when they dont like something to hell with others.

  • Anonymous

    I challenge all NPC members to start doing their laundry the old fashioned way. Hand wash it and line dry it. You can’t complain about someone doing something if you are doing the exact same thing. So stop using your dryers and get out in your yards. Sometimes in order to appreciate something we have to lose it for awhile. Now lets see who in this town is man enough or woman enough to take on this challenge.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Look at who sit on this board tell the whole story of the economic problems in Natchez and why Vidalia is growing by leaps and bounds!!

  • Anonymous

    I can only imagine sitting through the grueling tourture of Bob Nix explanation of this.  It had to have brought everyone to complete and utter exhaustion.

  • Anonymous

    If they were just looking for a proper exhaust design, why did they demand the holes be repaired to original condition?  They didn’t give the laundromat the same opportunity as the casino to change the plans to a more amenable design and come back to the next meeting.  Time for the aldermen/woman to override their feeble authority.

  • Anonymous

    I would suggest the commission get off its duff and decide something soon.  I have seen different reports on the location of the “Bridge of Sighs”, one crossing over Silver Street and the other over Roth Hill Road.  If it is actually going to be located over Roth Hill, it will just be a matter of time before the construction machinery being moved under the hill will take it down.  Then, there will be those delivery trucks with their high box trailers going down the hill, etc.  But, i guess that is why they are called the Preservation Commission?  Since this will be a replica bridge, why does it meet standards being built of metal, it should be built of wood identical to the original structure.

  • Anonymous

    The NPC disaproves of a hole in the wall? If that ain’t an ironic metaphor. 

  • Anonymous

    It’s apparant that Bob Nix isn’t qualified for his job, 5 or so jobs in as many years should have been a clue. Marty Seibert needs to get off of the board…..who puts these people up????? The inspector (if you can call him that) has his own personal problems, real problems, so he really isn’t capable of rectifying this situation. I do believe at this point, I would go ahead with my plans as shown and put up a wall and screw the city officials. That’s what it’s going to take to get the deadbeat people off the boards. They are all so power hungry, they love to tell people no; see where’s it’s gotten us?  What can they do? Sure can’t put you jail. Maybe fine you, but it’s not an enforceable fine. Bring in the damn supreme court.

  • Anonymous

    The design should not matter that much – it is out of the way and and an ersatz historic look will just be lipstick on a pig. What they should concentrate on is the impact on the existing historic structures. I would much rather see the casino using part of the existing downtown historic structures for offices, support services and thus maintaining and revitalizing the historic downtown rather than putting some kind of “historic look” on a new building. There is plenty of vacant real estate downtown and the casino could fill it. If the Commission really wanted to make some changes, I suggest a trade of credits – the casino can keep the design as is, but in return they renovate the old downtown movie theater and put some of the entertainment shows there.

  • Anonymous

    That’s up to the designers/owner.  No one was “run out” of any building.

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t have said it better!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent points. Except the NPC exercises power through inertia. It has a voice in developing that which does not yet exist but deters 
    development of that which long ago ceased to be worthy of preservation.
    Whatever stood on Main St before Goodyear, was Goodyear worthy to replace it? If so, why and at what cost to the town’s heritage?
    Ms Sierbert, I yield the floor – subject to NPC’s validation of the ground on which I persume to stand. 

     

  • Anonymous

    What did the exhaust plan you saw look like?

  • Anonymous

    How do these same people remain on the board year after year? They must be appointed, I can’t recall an election being held for them.
    What qualifications are needed to become a ” committee chairperson” and be able to rule as seen fit? Is this a  city government budgeted office
    or just some folks that want to  tell you what you should be doing? Where in the charter do they get their authority?  

  • Anonymous

    Disqus generic email templateI haven’t seen a new one. They can’t vent up because it’s 14 feet and 11 feet in the max. —– Original Message —–
    From: Disqus
    To: NTZANTQ@bellsouth.net
    Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2011 8:37 PM
    Subject: [natchezdemocrat] Re: Casino approval in limbo

    niderbip wrote, in response to ROLLINGONTHERIVER:

    What did the exhaust plan you saw look like?

    Link to comment

  • Anonymous

    I see.  It looks like maybe those vents weren’t going to “go out a few inches and then vent pipe straight up
    to to the top of the building”.  It’s just a wild guess, but anyone erecting a lovely brick wall separating the
    properties may also be required to get a permit for that as well.  But I do agree with you that enforcement is not uniform.

  • Anonymous

    Disqus generic email templateThis will happen. I know you don’t want it to , but it will open. Noone ever said the vents were going “straight” up. That was just an opinion. Erecting a wall is a fix. AND the property that it would be on does belong to the building owner. This is just more footsy bullshit because Marty Seibert is friends with the Gibson’s, the Gibson’s don’t like their brother and sister so they will do anything to be asses. —– Original Message —–
    From: Disqus
    To: NTZANTQ@bellsouth.net
    Sent: Friday, December 16, 2011 6:10 AM
    Subject: [natchezdemocrat] Re: Casino approval in limbo

    niderbip wrote, in response to ROLLINGONTHERIVER:

    I see. It looks like maybe those vents weren’t going to “go out a few inches and then vent pipe straight up to to the top of the building”. It’s just a wild guess, but anyone erecting a lovely brick wall separating the properties may also be required to get a permit for that as well. But I do agree with you that enforcement is not uniform.
    Link to comment

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t care less if it happens or not.  Now the wall is going on the laundry property?  I believe you’re finding out it’s not quite as simple as “it’s zoned commercial”.

  • Anonymous

    Removed by useless rules and regulations is still ran out.

  • Anonymous

    No one has been removed.  All I could tell by the published article is holes designed to vent 16 exhausts 4 feet from a home are to be plugged.  Did you get some other info at the meeting or something ?

  • Anonymous

    I keep waiting to hear what “the Gone with the Wind bunch”, the blue hairs, the hoop skirt mafia, has done to discourage business/industrial growth in Natchez. Examples please.

  • Anonymous

    Good point blatherer.  I’d like to see the specifics of any examples.