Rockingham County Board of Commissioners approved a rezoning request that could pave the way for a casino, which has some residents concerned.
The unanimous decision allows a Huntsville community parcel to now be used for entertainment venues. Several community members spoke out against the proposal, including Sharon Ellis.
"We're not anti-growth, but this growth is not good for anyone," she says.
NC Development Holdings, LLC requested the rezoning on behalf of the landowners. The proposal failed in a 2-5 vote by the planning board in July.
North Carolina currently doesn't allow casinos on non-tribal land. But economist Mike Walden with North Carolina State University says changing this has become a growing discussion among state officials.
He says Virginia recently authorized casinos, and there has also been increased interest in legalized gambling.
"So I think what really has sparked this is lost economic opportunities if they don't respond and compete with Virginia," says Walden.
Walden says residents have legitimate worries about increased traffic or higher land costs. He says a casino can bring significant investments but they have to be balanced against the needs of the community.