Aurora casino progress: City plan panel approves zoning, use requests

The Hollywood Casino in Aurora ticked another item off its moving to-do list Wednesday, as the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission approved requests to rezone the site and for a conditional-use permit.

Only two residents attended the public hearing Wednesday night, where the commission heard about Penn Entertainment's plans to move the casino to a 16.8-acre site on the west side of Farnsworth Avenue.

Only two commissioners asked questions about the plan. Commissioner Yvonne Owusu-Safo and Nancy Martinez asked about the effect on traffic.

Martinez asked about what would happen to the intersection of Church and Molitor roads, south of the casino. The casino's plan calls for employees to enter the site on Church. Casino and hotel patrons would enter from Farnsworth.

Ascension Catholic Church and School is on the west side of the T-intersection of Church and Molitor, which is governed by stop signs. Church is a two-lane road, and residents of the area are concerned about how busy it will become. They say employees of businesses to the north also use Church to get to work.

A city engineer said that the intersection will get some right-turn lanes. After the casino is built and traffic is recounted, it will likely qualify to get a traffic light, he said. He also said he believes the peak traffic times for casino employees will be different from the peak times for the school, church and businesses.

Lanes also will be added to Bilter Road and Farnsworth.

Owusu-Safo asked if the city is coordinating with the Illinois Tollway regarding the casino's effect on the entrance and exit ramps for I-88. The engineer said the city is asking the tollway to reopen one of the lanes on the exit from the westbound tollway to Farnsworth. That lane was closed after the tollway removed a coin-collecting toll machine.

The land currently is zoned for business, wholesale and manufacturing use.

If the city council approves, it will be zoned for business and wholesale uses, with a conditional-use planned development.

The city council's business, zoning and economic development committee will now consider the requests at its June 14 meeting. If the committee approves them, it will forward them to the city council.

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  The Hollywood Casino in downtown Aurora is planning to move to a site on the north side of Aurora. This building and the attached gambling room would be demolished, and the site transferred to the city. Brian Hill/, 2022
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