Brookhaven Town has hired outside counsel to determine whether it has legal authority to stop a planned $65 million Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corp. gaming facility in Medford.
The town has hired the Manhattan-based Nixon Peabody LLP law firm to issue an opinion on the matter, Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said at the town council's work session Monday.
"Nixon Peabody will review all legal questions connected with video lottery terminals," Romaine said.
Under state law, the New York State Gaming Commission is the only agency with the authority to approve or deny plans to build the casino.
Referring to outside counsel, Romaine said, "They will render a legal opinion, which I'm almost positive will coincide with our law department." Town attorneys have previously said the town has no role in the casino issue. A town spokesman said he did not know the cost of the contract with Nixon Peabody.
In January, the town board voted 6-0, with one abstention, to oppose the casino, which has drawn opposition from many Medford residents.
The opinion should take about three weeks, the supervisor estimated, adding that the town met with several Medford residents on Friday for a list of questions they want the law firm to answer.
Romaine didn't say what the questions were. "We've told the Medford people to give us all your questions," he said.
"I know some residents posed some legal arguments that prove to be not exactly on the money, but they are free to argue their case. I understand they are passionate and interested," he said.
Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said she picked the law firm, noting Brookhaven has worked well with the group in the past.
"For a few extra dollars, we'll get a second opinion," Romaine said.