Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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July 25, 2013

High-stakes battle brewing; Border casino proposal raising quick concerns

Border casino proposal raising quick concerns

(Continued)

Tucker believes Penn National’s proposal will not get past next month’s Special Town Meeting in Tewksbury, where a two-thirds majority is needed to amend zoning for the project.

Penn National Gaming is “just sniffing out places that might be stupid enough to welcome them, and I do hope Tewksbury isn’t one of those places,” Tucker said. “I have every reason to believe it won’t be.”

Betting on Tewksbury

Tewksbury officials were first approached by Penn National Gaming on Friday, July 5, at which point they started working on a “host agreement,” according to Tewksbury Town Manager Richard Montuori. A week later, they reached out to Andover Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski.

That host agreement, approved by the Tewksbury Board of Selectmen last Thursday, July 18, establishes a series of controls on the project and how it will benefit, as well as protect, their town.

The agreement moves the process forward to town residents, said Tewksbury selectmen Chairman Scott Wilson, who is now hoping for “an open-format dialogue with the community” on the proposal.

Wilson believes a casino off Route 133 would have wide-reaching, positive economic impacts.

“There are places that could see an influx of people, but we have to do the project right,” he said. “It’s $5 million coming into the town one way or another, and that doesn’t capture the ancillary costs of people coming into this community.”

But Wilson acknowledged it’s “a big change.”

“Change can be scary for people,” he said. “We have time to educate them and all we ask, in the end, is for them to make an educated decision.”

The proposal is already facing opposition in Tewksbury, where residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed site are vowing to fight its approval. No Slots Tewksbury, a townwide organization of residents seeking to maintain the quality of lives and local businesses in Tewksbury, has launched a campaign and has more than 300 “likes” on Facebook.

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