Stop-work order lifted for track

The Jefferson County Commission and officials from Charles Town Races & Slots reached an agreement to allow the track's expansio

The Jefferson County Commission and officials from Charles Town Races & Slots reached an agreement to allow the track's expansio

February 12, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A stop-work order halting construction on an expansion of Charles Town Races & Slots was lifted Tuesday during a Jefferson County Commission meeting.

Track officials and the commissioners agreed to sign an agreement lifting the order even though Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson cautioned them about signing the agreement without the approval of the Jefferson County Planning, Zoning and Engineering Department, which issued the stop-work order.

If the planning department would not sign the agreement, Thompson said he was worried about the commissioners and the planning department "being at loggerheads" over the stop-work order, especially if the planning department believed the order should remain in effect.


Thompson said he felt more comfortable with the situation after the commissioners agreed not to direct the planning, zoning and engineering department to lift the stop-work order. The commissioners took that responsibility, Thompson said.

The stop-work order was issued a week ago because county planning officials believed Charles Town Races & Slots did not have a building permit for work involved in a second phase of expansion at the track, according to track President Jim Buchanan.

Track officials believed they had a permit for the work, which involved expanding the Slot City gaming area and food court, Buchanan said.

The track is involved in a $54 million expansion that includes new slot machine areas, a new lounge, food court, parking garage and other facilities.

On Tuesday, attorney Peter Chakmakian, who is representing the track, offered a settlement proposal to resolve the stop-work order issue.

Chakmakian asked that the stop-work order be lifted in exchange for track owners putting down a $250,000 cash bond to make sure they obtain the building permit for the expansion, Thompson said. The $250,000 then would be returned to the track once the permit is obtained and all requirements are met.

The agreement initially called for the commissioners, track owners and the planning, zoning and engineering department to approve the settlement.

Paul Raco, director of the planning department, had reservations about dropping the stop-work order and told the commissioners he was concerned he had no attorney to guide him on the matter.

Thompson was representing the commissioners.

Commissioner James G. Knode sympathized with Raco's concerns about not having an attorney.

Given the gravity of holding up expansion on a major employer in the county, Commissioner Greg Corliss supported the commission lifting the stop-work order.

"We're providing him the authority," said Corliss, referring to Raco.

Corliss said it was a "sad day" when Raco needs an attorney for the commissioners to talk to him about an issue.

Corliss and Commissioners Rusty Morgan and Al Hooper voted to lift the stop-work order with the track's $250,000 cash bond. Commission President Jane Tabb and Knode voted against it.

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