New Jersey's Bill S-11 Establishes the Atlantic City Tourism District

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In a boost to New Jersey's casino and tourism industries, the state has enacted three new laws, and a fourth bill is pending before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

As part of the legislative package signed into law on February 1, 2011, revamping the regulatory landscape for gaming in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Legislature has created the Atlantic City Tourism District ("Tourism District") to allow the state greater authority to promote tourism in Atlantic City. This new district is to be administered and managed by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority ( the "CRDA"), whose powers are expanded to encompass its new responsibility for the Tourism District.

Under this new legislation, the CRDA is authorized to promote private investment in the development of the boardwalk area, the Marina District and the development within the Tourism District of nongaming family-oriented entertainment, such as amusement parks. To accomplish these objectives, the CRDA has been given authority to set design guidelines and land-use regulations, and to create a master plan for the Tourism District, all of which supersede any existing zoning, land-use ordinances or the master plan of Atlantic City. The CRDA is then authorized to act in a manner similar to a zoning or planning board, approving and denying applications for projects. The CRDA is also granted exclusive jurisdiction over the rules and regulations establishing the direction and control of traffic on roads within the Tourism District and also has jurisdiction, along with the appropriate road and highway authorities, to approve development projects along the roads and highways within the Tourism District.

The bill, S-11, vests the CRDA with the authority to determine, by resolution, the precise boundaries of the Tourism District. However, the Tourism District is to include, at a minimum, the Atlantic City casinos and casino hotels, any property under the ownership or control of the CRDA, the Atlantic City Special Improvement District, any property under the ownership or control of the convention center authority, any property within Atlantic City under the ownership or control of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the Atlantic City Convention Center and Boardwalk Hall. If the CRDA does not pass a resolution defining the precise boundaries of the Tourism District within 90 days of the effective date of the legislation, S-11 sets the precise boundaries, including the above-mentioned areas, but also including Bader Field and the Marina District.

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