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Lombard trustees vote to uphold village's video gaming ban

Lombard resident Lynn O'Donnell expresses gratitude toward the village trustees Thursday, June 19 after the board voted to uphold the village's video gaming ban. (Erica Benson -
Lombard resident Lynn O'Donnell expresses gratitude toward the village trustees Thursday, June 19 after the board voted to uphold the village's video gaming ban. (Erica Benson -

LOMBARD – Video gambling will remain illegal in the village of Lombard.

The Lombard Village Board on Thursday night voted 5 to 1 in favor of rejecting two proposed ordinances that would have overturned the village's current ban on video gaming terminals. Trustee Bill Ware (District 6) cast the lone dissenting vote.

"I've heard from a large group of people that oppose [lifting] this [ban]," Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio said. "This board, myself, and our staff have taken this issue very seriously.

"When you're about to change ordinances – change a law – I feel you have to have real passion for the change you're going to make. When I made my final decision, I chose not to support it."

Trustees, prior to the vote, said they each heard the large outpouring of feedback from Lombard residents who are staunchly opposed to bringing video gaming to the village.

In recent weeks, village staff also received two petitions, including one from the Beacon Hill Senior Living Community, with more than 100 signatures each, Lombard Village Manager Scott Niehaus said earlier this week.

"During the last six weeks, the public has reminded every member of this board that the people are in charge," said trustee Peter Breen (District 4), who made a formal motion to reject the two ordinances, which appeared on Thursday's agenda as first readings.

For the past six weeks, village officials and staff have been debating whether or not to lift the current ban.

During a May 1 board meeting, Giagnorio broke a 3-to-3 vote, approving a motion to direct village staff to draft an ordinance repealing the existing ban.

Ware, trustee Mike Fugiel (District 2) and trustee Reid Foltyniewicz (District 3) voted in favor of the motion, while Breen (District 4), trustee Laura Fitzpatrick (District 5) and trustee Dan Whittington (District 1) voted against it.

Fugiel and Foltyniewicz, acknowledging Thursday that they originally voted for the ordinance to be drafted, said they have since changed their stance because of the strong resident opposition.

"I'm glad we took the time and made an informed decision," Foltyniewicz said.

Ware, who had championed the push to overturn the ban, said trustees have a responsibility to bring up ideas.

"I'm glad that the board did have a chance to talk about it," Ware said. "I can see where the consensus is."

State lawmakers in 2009 approved a law allowing gambling terminals, leaving municipalities with the option to ban gaming, a move Lombard chose to pursue in 2010.

Giagnorio added his admiration for residents who care about their hometown.

"Lombard – its residents and board – I could not be more proud of," Giagnorio said. "You made it clear to your elected officials that you did not want video gambling."

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