illanueva said that those who are opposed the building are doing so due to unfounded assumptions about the new casino and that the new project has already been unanimously approved by the Tourist Development Council (CONFOTOR) a body which in turn is made up of the ministries of Tourism, Finance, Environment, Culture and the Association of Hotels and Tourism of the Dominican Republic.
A neighbourhood committee along with school staff and residents of the neighbourhood of Piantini have asked the Ministry of Finance to deny the license for the 23,000 square foot casino which will be part of the Hard Rock Hotel. Locals have complained that the new casino will have a negative effect on the community located in the heart of a residential urban area with a large number of educational institutions.
However Villanueva said: “There are schools everywhere and they are closer to hotels with casinos. It is surprising that the protest is happening now. That one (casino) will be bigger than the others is not a problem. Yet they have the right to protest and that has to be respected.”
A total of 3,000 families have joined forces to oppose the new plans for the casino and concerned locals have made the request via an open letter to Simón Lizardo, Minister of Finance. In the letter locals expressed their “categorical rejection of the installation of a casino in the heart of Piantini” because the casino is “completely incompatible” with a residential neighbourhood with so many schools, especially given the fact that the new casino would be one of the largest in the country.
But Villanueva said that that the zone in which it is being built has been declared a commercial zone after local building laws were changed. He also said that concerns over a lack of parking in the area were unfounded as the hotel will be equipped with a six story car park. “The investors have complied with all that the law demands. It has also been approved by the technical department of the Ministry of Tourism,” he remarked.