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Zoning commission clears way for off-track betting in Villa Park
By Kathryn Grondin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/15/2008 12:32 AM

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Arlington Park racecourse won another round in its effort to build an off-track betting parlor in DuPage County.

Villa Park's planning and zoning commission Thursday recommended that the village change its zoning code to allow for the betting facility along North Avenue at Addison Road.

Now village trustees must decide whether to accept or reject advisory panel's recommendation.

Earlier this week, the Illinois Racing Board gave approval to Arlington Park and to Salerno Pincente Ristorante for the joint 10,000-square-foot betting parlor and adjoining restaurant.

The venue, which could open as early as October, is expected to generate $100,000 in betting proceeds for the village and 30 to 50 jobs for area residents, Villa Park officials say.

"It's the start of an economic turn-around on North Avenue," Trustee Tom Cullerton said Friday.

Gambling opponents have expressed concerns at every step of the process.

"I don't think they responded to the people before them," said gambling foe Kathy Gilroy, referring to the planning and zoning commission's decision.

"I'm disappointed they're not listening to the concerns of the residents," added Gilroy, who lives in Villa Park.

Some residents have expressed concerns that the establishment will exacerbate existing problems with trash, lights and trespassers. Others, including members of the Islamic Foundation that is on the community's south side, have cited moral or religious arguments.

Villa Park police and village officials have said that similar facilities in nearby Oakbrook Terrace and further in Hodgkins have not created problems in those communities.

"It's a new era in Villa Park," Cullerton said. "We're going to continue to try things that people say couldn't be done. We're going to push the box for economic development. If we want to keep property taxes low … we have to."