City's decision irks casino owner
June 12, 2008 · Updated 10:24 AM
"The owner of Hank's Country Inn in Belfair thinks he got the fast shuffle from Port Orchard. And he's considering taking legal action to fight it.The Port Orchard City Council on Monday voted to deny Henry O'Sullivan a permit to operate a mini-casino and lounge in the West Bay Shopping Center, citing environmental concerns and an incomplete application. But O'Sullivan believes the city's real objection was to the prospect of gambling.(The council members) had all the information in front of them, O'Sullivan said. We answered all of their questions. In the end, they just decided to deny it anyway.O'Sullivan's application for a permit was approved last month by the Port Orchard Planning Commission, not so much because its members were enhusiastic about the possibility of a casino but because they could find no grounds for opposing it.City attorney Loren Combs advised the council members they could not deny O'Sullivan a permit on the basis of gambling because there was no existing law on the city's books banning gambling. Instead, the council voted unanimously to block the casino because O'Sullivan had neglected to present a plan regarding changes he planned to make to the building's exterior.O'Sullivan, who planned to rent the structure, said the building's owner planned to paint it and clean it up, which doesn't require a full-blown site plan.No one else in the history or Port Orchard has ever had these kind of conditions placed on them when they just wanted to rent space for their business, O'Sullivan said. That should tell you something.O'Sullivan said he planned to consult a lawyer to see whether or not an appeal of the city's decision could be successful. But he conceded that even if he prevailed in a lawsuit it wouldn't reverse the outcome of the vote.By law, O'Sullivan would have to re-apply for his permit, and the city council two weeks ago imposed a six-month moratorium on all gambling establishments in the city limits and could deny his application on that basis.It's too late now, he said. I could win a financial judgment against the city if a judge found they had used the paperwork thing as a smokescreen to hide their true motives. But I still wouldn't be able to open the casino.A crowd of more than 200 people, mostly opposed to the idea of a casino in Port Orchard, crowded into the council chambers for Monday night's meeting.There was a lot of lies told in that room, O'Sullivan said. People said I'd be bringing guns, drugs and prostitution to town and that's just wrong. I was horrified that the city council would permit such a thing to happen and I didn't appreciate it. "