Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

August 15, 2013

Town bracing for vote on slots

Crime, traffic top concerns as Tewksbury casino faces first test

(Continued)

Spokesman Morris agreed that traffic in the area is bad, but that the company will do whatever it takes to reduce the casino’s impact on the problem.

“Part of the discussion is how to be a good neighbor,” Morris said. “Part of the traffic study and agreement we weighed with Tewksbury is we’ll fully fund any traffic mitigation — traffic and infrastructure. Additional issues with Andover or Lowell, when we get into our surrounding community discussions .... it’s preliminary to talk detail, but that’s what it’s for.”

BARRIERS TO BREAK

Tuesday’s Special Town Meeting vote in Tewksbury is only the first of ultimately six approvals Penn National Gaming needs to launch Merrimack Valley Casino. Here are the steps it faces:

1. SPECIAL TOWN MEETING, Tuesday, Aug. 20: Penn National Gaming must win a two-thirds majority approval of Tewksbury Town Meeting for new zoning to support a casino on the Ames Pond Drive site.

2. TOWN ELECTION, Saturday, Sept. 21: Tewksbury residents must support a referendum ballot vote adopting the gaming proposal itself. A simple majority is needed.

3. SUITABILITY DECISION, by Aug. 31: The Massachusetts Gaming Commission will conduct a hearing into the suitability of Penn National Gaming running a casino in the state. The proposal only advances if a heavily detailed background check is cleared.

4. APPLICATION DEADLINE, Friday, Oct. 4: Penn must file an application with the state, complete with both Tewksbury votes in support of its proposal and surrounding community agreements with the town of Andover and city of Lowell.

5. LICENSE AWARD, December 2013 to February 2014: The state gaming commission will award the single slots-only casino license in the state to the gaming company it feels is most deserving based on its plan, work with surrounding communities and history in other areas. Penn National Gaming’s proposed Tewksbury casino is one of four currently seeking the slots-only license.

6. PERMITTING PROCESS: If Penn receives the slots-only license, it must complete the standard permitting process that governs all construction projects and secure the necessary planning and conservation permits. The permitting process will include input from abutters — including Andover’s Jordyn Lane residents — and offers opportunities for town officials to still shoot down the proposal, according to Tewksbury Selectmen Chairman Scott Wilson.

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