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Mulvane council clears way for casino construction

Construction on the Kansas Star casino can proceed at the Mulvane turnpike exit after the Mulvane City Council approved several ordinances Monday.

The council approved a zoning change, a special-use permit for the site, a planned unit development plan and a developer's agreement for the project. Council member Shawn Townson voted against the first three measures but abstained on the developer's agreement, saying his employer would be involved in the project.

Seven people spoke against the project at the meeting.

The zoning change, special-use permit and planned unit development ordinance will be published Thursday in the Mulvane News, the city's official newspaper. That will allow the casino's developer, Iowa-based Peninsula Gaming, to get building permits and begin construction.

Peninsula has been preparing the site for the project. Crews have been building access roads for equipment and materials, putting in a trailer compound to house offices for engineers and subcontractors, and building a staging area.

The Kansas Star is scheduled to open as an interim casino in February 2012. It will include 1,310 slot machines, 32 gaming tables, a 50-seat snack bar and several food and beverage amenities, the company has said.

The permanent casino is scheduled to open in January 2013 with more slots and tables, a 10-table poker room, a buffet, steakhouse, food court, two bars and a 150-room hotel.

The Kansas Star is scheduled to be completed in 2015 with 2,000 slots, 50 gaming tables, a 300-room hotel, an RV park, a gift shop, and an expanded equestrian/events/convention center.

Challenges to the casino remain.

House Speaker Mike O'Neal and Rep. Vince Wetta, D-Wellington, recently have questioned the legality of Peninsula's contract with the state.

O'Neal has asked Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to see if it can be challenged in court.

Wetta asked in a letter to Schmidt last month whether the contract would comply with the state's expanded gambling law without plans in place by the developer to resolve infrastructure issues at the site such as drainage, sewage and traffic.

Peninsula has said it has plans to resolve the issues.

Schmidt is reviewing both requests, according to a spokesman.

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