Suffolk OTB officials have decided not to submit plans for a $65 million video casino to Brookhaven Town planning officials.
Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corp. president Phil Nolan said in an interview that the New York State Gaming Commission is the only agency with authority under state law to approve or deny plans to build the casino. OTB officials want to open the parlor, with as many as 1,000 video lottery terminals, early next year on a Long Island Expressway service road east of Route 112 in Medford.
"We'll be dealing exclusively with the gaming commissioner," Nolan said. "We're going to be submitting all reports to the gaming commissioner, and that's what we're going to do."
Previously, OTB officials had agreed to submit site plans as a courtesy to the Brookhaven Town Planning Board, though OTB officials said they were not legally required to do so. The planning board would have been allowed to suggest alterations in elements such as sewage, signs and parking, but could not stop the project.
Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine declined through a spokesman to comment. Brookhaven officials have agreed that the town has no legal role in approving the casino.
In January, the town board voted 6-0, with one abstention, to oppose the casino, which has drawn opposition from many Medford residents.
OTB employees and building trades workers have supported the proposal. Supporters have said the casino would employ hundreds of people and pump millions of dollars into the struggling OTB's coffers.
Town Councilman Neil Foley, who represents Medford, said he was disappointed with OTB's decision.
"I think it's wrong," Foley said. "Throughout this process, it seems OTB has not sought out any community input at all and they're not seeking advice from Brookhaven. I think that's been the problem with OTB from the beginning."
Nolan said OTB officials had no objections to Brookhaven's handling of the project. He added that OTB officials had organized two meetings with Medford community leaders and town officials to discuss the plan.
"We've had plenty of interplay on this and a lot of comments going on," Nolan said. "I think we've had a good process to this point. I think we have taken into account a lot of people's input."
Romaine said at a March 12 town board meeting that Brookhaven officials plan to hire outside attorneys "to consider our legal options." He did not elaborate.