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St Tammany judge to consider casino vote constitutionality issues, prior to vote

1 month until Slidell Casino vote
1 month until Slidell Casino vote
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 5:32 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Covington judge has now scheduled a hearing and a possible trial to rule on the constitutionality of a Slidell casino vote scheduled in less than three weeks.

That measure will still be on the ballot, but its validity Must still be decided. It has been one of the Northshore’s most debated issues of the past year.

People for and against the proposed $325 million Camellia Bay casino near Slidell have dominated airwaves for the past several weeks.

An election is set for December 11, but after a constitutional challenge was raised, Covington judge John Keller has now set a time frame to determine whether or not the vote will be valid.

“We were very happy with Judge Keller honoring the first circuit court of appeal ruling to hear the motions,” said Slidell Pastor John Raymond

The judge’s decision to hear motions for and against the vote November 30, came about after a state appeals court reversed his previous ruling, to wait until after the election to determine whether the vote is constitutionally valid.

“I’m very excited to hear that he ruled in that position, I think honestly it should’ve been done that way previously but I’m glad he’s listening to the first circuit and they’re moving forward with it,” said Rick Franzo, with the group, ‘Concerned Citizens of St Tammany.’

Opponents to the project have been saying for months, that the state constitution requires a straight up or down parish-wide vote on a casino before a site-specific vote is taken.

“Folsom is 45 miles away from the proposed location, so is Metairie. Is it fair that Metairie can vote on a Slidell casino? No, and it’s not fair that Folsom is, and that’s why the state Constitution was written the way it was,” said Raymond.

For its part, Camellia Bay thru spokesman Jason Harbison, issued a statement saying, “We are excited to get our day in court. St. Tammany Parish deserves a right to vote yes for this economic development opportunity on December 11. we will be leading the charge in court to protect their right.”

The St Tammany Economic Development Corporation has also been a supporter of the Camellia Bay resort project. It also put out a statement saying, “The people have the right to vote on this project and it’s glad Camellia Bay is getting its day in court.”

St Tammany Corporation also said it hopes loud voices don’t deny the right to vote, but opponents say it’s about the law and fairness.

“It needs to be done the right way and that’s why it’s put in the constitution to ensure a fair vote,” said Raymond.

On Tuesday, November 30, district court judge John Keller will consider motions that could determine if the election goes forward.

He has also set a trial date for December 3 if necessary.

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