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Brookhaven officials to receive Medford casino plans soon

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine addresses the Suffolk

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine addresses the Suffolk County Republican Committee Party headquarters at the Portuguese American Center in Farmingville on Nov. 3, 2015. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Suffolk OTB officials said they hope to submit plans soon for a proposed Medford video lottery casino following a federal court order directing county and Brookhaven Town officials to review the project, officials said.

Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. president Phil Nolan said plans may be handed over to Brookhaven officials “very shortly” and as soon as this week. Town officials are expected to forward the proposal to the Suffolk County Planning Commission, officials said.

After receiving planning commission comments, the town planning board will review a site plan for the 90,050-square-foot betting parlor, which would have up to 1,000 video lottery terminals at the former Brookhaven Multiplex site on a Long Island Expressway service road east of Route 112.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carla E. Craig released a decision on Nov. 30 ordering the county and town to accept and review plans for the controversial facility. OTB officials were ordered to complete an environmental review of the project.

County and town officials have said they don’t plan to challenge Craig’s decision.

OTB vice president Anthony Pancella said the environmental review may be submitted Monday. He said he expected swift approval of the project.

“We have a site plan that fulfills all the codes, everything, so it should be pretty clear cut,” Pancella said.

Casino opponents, including area civic groups who say gambling facilities are not allowed under town zoning at the site, have filed suit in state Supreme Court to try to stop the project. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Wednesday in Riverhead.

Ten casino opponents spoke at a Brookhaven Town Board meeting Thursday night, some saying the town had been poorly served in the bankruptcy court proceedings by attorneys from the Manhattan law firm Nixon Peabody.

Medford resident Brett Houdek, a casino opponent, said town board members should stop the project. Craig’s decision appeared to give the town board no role in the review, because site plan applications in Brookhaven are reviewed by the town planning board.

“This is not a matter of planning, but a matter of zoning that rightly comes before the town board,” Houdek said. “The obligation of the town board is to review the zoning and not pass the buck to an unelected planning board.”

Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine and Councilman Neil Foley pledged on Thursday to continue the town board’s opposition to the casino.

“I don’t think it is in the best interests of the hamlet of Medford,” Romaine said during the town board meeting. “We will evaluate all of our options. We are not, as a board, in favor of this and we will act accordingly.”

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