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Casino plans scrapped over permit

Bremerton was supposed to have a new mini-casino in August, but because of complications it will just be a bowling alley.

Frank Evans, owner of Kenmore Lanes, the biggest bowling alley in the state, bought the vacant West Park Lanes building which he is refurbishing. The new bowling alley will be called Bremerton Lanes.

Evans originally planned to include a card room and off-track betting for Emerald Downs horse races at the business, but he had to obtain a special land use permit from Bremerton’s Building and Planning Department. The permit would take 11 weeks to obtain, Evans explained, and during that time he couldn’t do any work related to the casino.

Frustrated by the delay, Evans elected to scrap the casino, at least for now.

Chris Hugo, the director of community development, said the special land use permit procedure is not unusual.

“I think our rules were pretty clear,” Hugo said.

If Evans applied for the permit, Hugo said he would likely decide whether to grant it. It wouldn’t go before the public hearing examiner unless the neighboring businesses appealed the application, Hugo said.

With the mini-casino, the business would create 150 jobs, Evans said, but now he will only employ about 50.

Once Bremerton Lanes is open it will include a restaurant, bar, billiards, pull tabs and 36 lanes. Everything will be open 24 hours except for the bar, which will close at 2 a.m, Evans said. It is located off Auto Center Way.

The project was recently issued a stop-work order for demolishing walls without a demolition permit, according to Hugo.

Evans countered a building inspector told him he could proceed with the work on the Bruen Avenue building without a building permit, as long as no construction was done on the structure of the building.

Evans said only “partitions,” were demolished — they weren’t structural because they didn’t go through the ceiling.

Hugo said the city’s definition of a partition is anything less than six feet tall. He said the “walls” Evans were demolishing were several hundred feet tall.

“This is definitely something that would only be allowed under a permit,” Hugo said. “This isn’t a gray area at all.”

Hugo said Evans was also beginning to drywall without a building permit, which is illegal.

Despite setbacks with the mini-casino, Evans said he still hopes to open the bowling alley by August, before bowling-league season.

Evans said he chose Bremerton because he liked the location of the West Park Lanes building.

“I believe it’s a viable community and a viable business for the community,” Evans said. “I’m putting my money where my mouth is.”

Evans said after Bremerton Lanes is open he might begin the process to opening the mini-casino.

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