After nearly two hours of discussion Monday night, the Cheyenne City Council voted to postpone action on an ordinance that would allow Wyoming Downs, an off track-betting operation, to open a second location where Jackson's Sports Grill used to be.

Over a dozen residents spoke against the proposed zone change, voicing concerns about safety in the neighborhood based on criminal activity taking place at Wyoming Downs' current location on E. Lincolnway, which saw over 100 police visits in 2018.

"The majority of these calls are generated for things that are outside this facility," said Wyoming Downs owner Eric Nelson, adding that five out of the six drug calls reported last year involved finding a syringe or needle in the parking lot.

"Those are not generated from our customers (or) employees," said Nelson. "As far as crime being committed at that facility, it's just not true."

But many, including Scott Weaver, whose grandson attends Hobbs Elementary School, argued "needles in the parking lot" were Wyoming Downs' fault.

"It's their property," said Weaver. "I don't know how we as a community are going to prevent a drug user from going over from this parking lot two blocks away to the school parking lot, and onto the school grounds and dropping a needle."

Wyoming Downs CEO Rick Cook asked the council to delay voting on the ordinance for two weeks so the company could properly respond to the police data, but not before pointing out the projected tax revenues the new location would generate.

"The City of Cheyenne would realize almost $228,000 in taxes from that one site if we open in May," said Cook. "The county would receive the same."

"Every time someone comes up with some sort of scheme to make money because you can change the zoning to this or that, you put our neighborhoods at risk," said longtime resident Paul Wood. "People need to come before money."

Nelson, who said he was "stunned" by the police data, said Wyoming Downs would "do whatever is necessary to make sure that we're ensuring a safe neighborhood and safety for our customers and employees.​"

"Since we just got this information, we thought maybe it'd be a good idea on the 20th of this month to have an open house at Jackson's," said Nelson.

"We're happy to share all of our information to them (and) show them what we're planning on doing there," he added. "Because I don't want to be painted as a bad neighbor, I don't want to be painted as a bad community individual."

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