YOUNGSTOWN - Mahoning County commissioners on Thursday agreed to begin the process for clearing land needed for a proposed race track / casino in Austintown.
Commissioners will schedule a public viewing and public hearing for a request to vacate and alter certain parts of Lanterman Road that the operators of the ''racino'' want to use.
Marilyn Kenner of the county engineer's office said under state law, not only must a public hearing be held, but the public also must be given an opportunity to view the property.
Part of Lanterman Road needs to be aligned so all parcels can be lined up with nearby Silica Road, Kenner said.
The developers also want to vacate 500 feet of Lanterman Road east of state Route 46 to the bridge that goes over state Route 11, she said. That will be the racino's entry.
Kenner said to vacate means to remove a road from the county's highway system and have the land revert to the property owners.
She said she did not know how long the process would take because the commissioners' clerk must advertise for the hearing, and all adjacent property owners must be notified.
Plans to relocate a horse racetrack from the Toledo area and video lottery terminals (VLTs) to the Austintown property have been under way for more than a year.
Penn National has an application pending with the state Lottery Commission seeking a license to locate the VLTs on the property. A separate application to relocate the racetrack license to Austintown is also pending with the state racing commission.
''We continue to get what we think is terrific cooperation from the county and Austintown Township,'' Penn National spokesman Bob Tenenbaum said.
If everything goes as planned, the company hopes to be open by 2014.
Business writer Brenda J. Linert contributed to this story.