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Prince George's Co. Council OKs casino plan

Monday - 7/21/2014, 3:39pm  ET

OXON HILL, Md. - If you drive by the future site of MGM National Harbor, you'll see that some ground work has already begun, but what you won't see is actual construction taking place.

Building permits are needed from Prince George's County, and the only way MGM can obtain them is with approval from the Prince George's County Council.

The council voted 8-1 Monday to approve the building plan.

The vote paves the way for construction of the resort, which could open in July 2016.

The casino is slated to have 3,600 slot machines and 140 table games. Plans also call for a 300-room hotel.

MGM officials now will seek a building permit, which could be obtained next month.

The council heard presentations last Monday on the site and traffic plan for the $925 million casino.

"Right now we have grading permits, and the next step will be go get building permits," said MGM's attorney Arthur Horne.

He says a successful vote will mean the site plan for the project can get certified, which will then allow for MGM to pull the permits it needs.

"We're hoping to get the building permits in the end of July. That may move into the first or second weekend of August," Horne said.

During last week's meeting, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission presented the applications received for the project, including a study on the impact the casino will have on traffic.

The study found that the casino, which will have a theater, will see the most traffic around 7:30 p.m., two hours after the peak time for the normal daily rush.

Some people who live near the future home of the casino say they are not satisfied with the plans.

Will Nuckols lives near the site and says the traffic study didn't account for special events and big shopping days at National Harbor.

"It's not that we want to keep people away and say, ‘Please don't come shop there and come to the special events.' We want all that to be able to work and be able to come home."

Horne says the excitement of the new casino may cause traffic problems, but he says after the grand opening, traffic will level off.

Last week's meeting included discussion about the impact the lights and giant LED on the building will have on area historical sights and neighborhoods. MGM says it plans to plant additional trees to limit the light leaving the area.

The casino will be home to 3,600 slot machines, 140 table games as well as a luxury hotel. It is set to open in July 2016.

The casino proposal won the support of Maryland voters in a 2012 ballot question, and it has the support of Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker.

The Associated Press and WTOP's Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on WTOP Facebook page.

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