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Council takes no position on casino referendum

The Common Council delayed action Tuesday on a resolution that would have put it on record opposing a ballot measure to increase the number of casinos in New York, voting to discuss it after the election.

The resolution, from Council Members Joseph Golombek and Michael J. LoCurto, will be discussed during the Council’s Community Development Committee, which meets on Nov. 6, a day after voters will decide whether to approve Proposal 1, which would add seven casinos statewide.

The resolution didn’t appear to have the support among city lawmakers to pass on Tuesday.

It would have been a rebuke to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is in favor of expanding casino gambling throughout the state.

“I think the governor has done an excellent job of bringing the issue to the people,” said Council President Richard A. Fontana, when asked about the decision to delay a vote. “I think the city and the governor work really well together.”

Fontana also noted Cuomo’s $1 billion commitment to Western New York.

The Council president voiced concerns on Monday about the resolution because it urged voters to reject Proposal 1. He said the Council shouldn’t be telling people how to vote. On Tuesday, a revised resolution was distributed to lawmakers, which replaced that language with a statement that the Council opposes the proposal.

Still, it was referred to committee.

If the constitutional amendment passes, Western New York would not see a new casino because the Seneca Nation of Indians has an agreement with the state that allows them exclusive operating rights.

In other business:

• LoCurto is asking his colleagues to revisit a public shaming law for slumlords, which is on the books but apparently has not been followed in recent years.

The law allows the posting of the names of property owners whose holdings are not in compliance with city code. The code allows for a sign, 18 inches by 24 inches, to be posted on the right-of-way in front of the property, saying, “This property is contributing to the spread of slum and blight in the City of Buffalo,” and should include the owner’s name, address and telephone number.

The issue will be discussed during Wednesday’s Legislation Committee meeting.

• Savarino Cos. is working with Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk on an appeal of a decision by the city’s Preservation Board to deny the company’s request to dismantle the Erie Freight House. A formal appeal was filed by Savarino and will be considered by lawmakers during Wednesday’s Legislation Committee meeting.

• Lawmakers approved an amended payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the city and HealthNow. The health insurer is leasing space in its West Genesee Street headquarters to the engineering firm URS Corp., which is relocating from its Goodell Street building. The amendment was approved by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency last week. The change will actually increase payments to the city by about $30,000 to $35,000 per year from 2014-15 through 2022-2023.

• The Council hired DiDonato Associates for design and engineering work on a second-floor addition to the Hatch Restaurant, at a cost not to exceed $120,000.

A request for bids to operate the Hatch is going out this month, and if the expansion is expedited, the city can realize more revenue from a new operator, according to a memo to lawmakers from City Engineer Peter Merlo.

• The Council will again send an application for landmark status for St. Ann’s Church and Shrine on the city’s East Side to the Legislation Committee for a public hearing on Nov. 6. There was an issue with the way the first application was filed with the Council, so lawmakers will review it again.

• A public hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 to change the name of 125 Main St. from the Donovan Building to One Canalside. The building is the future home of a Courtyard by Marriott hotel and the Phillips Lytle law firm.