Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dixon Downs Gets Final OK From Council

Dixon Downs Gets Final OK From Council
By Julie Kay/Staff Writer

The Dixon City Council gave a second and final approval to the proposed Dixon Downs horse racetrack development at its Tuesday night meeting.

A signature-gathering effort continues, meanwhile, to bring the issue before voters through a referendum.

In a 3-1 vote, the Council again approved the two ordinances which underpin the racetrack's creation. The first allows the rezoning of the 260-acre Dixon Downs site in the city's Northeast Quadrant; the second authorizes the agreement between the city and Magna Entertainment Corp., the company proposing the project. Councilman Steve Alexander dissented. Councilman Gil Vega was absent from the meeting.

The Council approved the ordinances for the first time at a meeting on Oct. 24. By law, all ordinances get two readings and must be approved both times to take effect. Once an ordinance has been approved twice, the public still has 30 days to collect enough signatures to force a referendum on the issue.

Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth, a group which has opposed the racetrack, has spearheaded an effort to collect signatures necessary for a referendum. The group will need to collect 700 signatures on each of four petitions relating to various aspects of the project the council has approved.

Before Tuesday's vote, Dixon Citizens for Quality Growth member Gail Preston made a last-ditch request that the council reverse its earlier decision and vote against the project.

"I ask you, why get involved with a losing company like Magna?" he said, asserting that the corporation has a record of financial mismanagement. "We hope you'll step back...and not adopt these ordinances."

The motion passed, with Alexander dissenting as he did in the first vote.

In other business, the council approved proposed adjustments to the City and Municipal Codes in order to regulate any adult-oriented businesses which may move to Dixon. The new rules specify that adult-oriented businesses must be at least 1,000 feet away from places including churches, residentially zoned land, schools, and public parks. They must locate within the city's Heavy Industrial District Zone, secure necessary permits, and ensure employees are properly licensed on a yearly basis.

Mayor Mary Anne Courville explained that the council's approval did not constitute an authorization of such businesses in Dixon. The city cannot prevent adult-oriented businesses from locating in Dixon, she said. It can, however, be proactive in making restrictions on how those businesses operate.

Julie Kay can be reached at

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