MGM National Harbor gets nod from Prince George’s County Planning Board

Via Baltimore Business Journal

The Prince George’s County Planning Board on Thursday unanimously approved the detailed site plan for MGM National Harbor, bringing the 1 million-square-foot casino-resort ever closer to its expected July groundbreaking.

The board’s support should not come as a surprise, given the planning staff’s effusive praise for the project in a recently-released report that deemed MGM National Harbor a “landmark.” Neither staff nor the board had any significant issues with the proposal.

The next stop for the plan is the District Council, but it likely won’t appear on that agenda until late June or perhaps early July.

“We’re very pleased, and it’s just one more step of getting approvals, getting building permits, getting this thing up and running in a couple years,” Arthur Horne of Shipley & Horne P.A., the local attorney representing MGM, said after the vote.

A number of area residents testified, most of them in opposition to the project as a whole, or the five large video boards planned for the exterior of the resort. They called the LED boards “unnecessary” and “obtrusive” and “garish.” They compared the plan to a casino in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. They said MGM intends to “light up the universe.”

Planning Commissioner John Shoaff suggested either cutting back on the number of boards, or directing MGM to dim them or shut them off late at night. Commissioner Dorothy Bailey, on the other hand, described the lighting as “engaging and exciting.”

“It’s like beauty: It’s in the eye of the beholder,” Bailey said. “I really do appreciate the lighting.”

Horne argued for no change, and that’s what he got.

“We would prefer to have all five,” he said of the LED boards. “Right now it’s part of the overall design of the building and it’s something they believe is important to the aesthetics and the operation of the building.”