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Brookhaven officials raise traffic, other issues at proposed Medford casino

The site of the former Brookhaven Multiplex off

The site of the former Brookhaven Multiplex off South Service Road in Medford. Suffolk OTB plans to create a gaming facility in the area. Credit: Google

Brookhaven Town officials have raised concerns about drainage, sewage, traffic and other issues related to Suffolk OTB's proposed $76 million video-lottery casino in Medford.

Town officials, in a three-page letter responding to a draft plan for the 96,000-square-foot facility, said it would "create a greater demand for policing, fire protection and emergency medical services." In addition, signs and the building's 52-foot height don't "conform with the nature and character of the area," officials wrote.

The letter, signed by Town Planning Commissioner Tullio Bertoli, was submitted Tuesday as part of a state-mandated environmental quality review of the facility, which would have up to 1,000 video lottery terminals. Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. officials are leading the project's review.

In the letter, Bertoli said OTB officials should use "green" landscaping techniques to mitigate storm water runoff and alter an exit to the Long Island Expressway to reduce traffic impact. He suggested payments in lieu of taxes to local fire and ambulance agencies.

In an interview, Suffolk OTB vice president Tony Pancella said attorneys are reviewing the Brookhaven letter. By law, OTB's responses to the town's comments must be part of the final plans for the casino.

Pancella said the casino is expected to open on a Long Island Expressway service road east of Route 112 in summer or fall of 2016.

"I certainly will have a response, but right now it's been turned over to the legal people who are handling that," Pancella said.

Opponents have sued in State Supreme Court to stop the project, saying the gaming facility would bring noise, crime and environmental hazards to the community. Supporters say the casino would provide hundreds of jobs and boost the coffers of Suffolk County and the struggling OTB, which is coming out of bankruptcy.

Town Attorney Annette Eaderesto said Wednesday Brookhaven officials are especially worried that OTB officials will pursue plans for on-site cesspools at the casino, rather than connecting to a nearby Suffolk County sewage treatment plant.

"Why would you not do that?" Eaderesto said. "It's right there, it's viable."

The casino plan has sparked testy exchanges between Brookhaven officials and casino opponents who want town officials to stop the plan. Town officials have said the casino is exempt under state law from local zoning codes.

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