BY PATRICK KERKSTRA OF THE INQUIRER Somehow, it just didn’t come up. Amid all the lawyers, the petitions, the protests and the huge stakes, little was said about Section 14-1624 of the Philadelphia Code – which bans certain adult-oriented businesses from part of the Delaware riverfront.

DiCicco said he’s alerting his lawyers to the relevant section of the city code and intends to add this issuealert.gif to the lawsuit Council has filed against the state Gaming Control Board over its casino site selections. Still, it was unclear yesterday just how large a challenge Section 14-1624 — approved by City Council in 2002 — actually poses to SugarHouse’s plans to build a half-billion-dollar slot-machine casino along the riverfront in Fishtown.

Gaming opponents have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Philadelphia’s two casino licensees. DiCicco, who is running for reelection, said he had simply forgotten about the 2002 ordinance — which he sponsored.

At issue is the North Delaware Avenue Special Control District, a “zoning overlay” that was created by Council in 2002 in an effort to crack down on rowdy riverfront bars and nightclubs. Dance halls, cabarets and restaurants were all prohibited, and so were establishments where “entertainment of guests and patrons” was the principal use.

The district does not extend far enough south to cover the Foxwoods casino site in Pennsport, but SugarHouse fits squarely within the zone.

Fishtown resident Carrie Nelson says she pointed all this out to a DiCicco aide. Nelson said she stumbled across the ordinance while researching another zoning matter.

“Everybody seemed to have forgotten about it,” Nelson said. “I can’t imagine that the folks who were so active in this for so long couldn’t have known at some level that this was out there.”

DiCicco couldn’t fathom why he hadn’t thought of the overlay. He not only sponsored the legislation; at recent community meetings, he even likened the anti-casino campaign to the 2002 crackdown on nightclubs.

“I’m sitting there talking about it and never remember we had this legislation,” DiCicco said.

After Nelson reminded his office of the ordinance, DiCicco and State Rep. Mike O’Brien wrote on Monday to SugarHouse President Robert Sheldon, notifying him of the zoning district and telling him a gaming facility there would be a “non-conforming” use. [FULL TEXT]

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