State seeks more data on Revere casino impact
Mohegan Sun insists project timetable intact
State officials are ordering Mohegan Sun to provide more information on the environmental impact of its proposed casino in Revere, but casino officials insist preparation of the new report will not delay the project’s permitting and construction timetable.
Mohegan Sun took over the Suffolk Downs casino proposal last year after the earlier operator, Caesar’s Entertainment, was jettisoned and the location of the casino was moved from an East Boston portion of the racetrack to a section in Revere. Mohegan Sun argued to state officials that a new environmental review of the project was unnecessary and the old review for the East Boston site could simply be updated.
But Richard Sullivan, the state secretary for energy and environmental affairs, turned down Mohegan Sun’s request and ordered the casino operator to prepare a so-called supplemental draft environmental impact report.
“Given the scope and potential environmental impacts of the project, and based on the content of the comments received, I am declining the request,” Sullivan wrote in his opinion, which was issued on Friday.
Gary Luderitz, vice president of development at Mohegan Sun, said Sullivan’s decision, called a certificate, “keeps the Mohegan Sun project on track to meet or exceed the permitting and construction timetable detailed in our submissions with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The certificate lays out a scope of further review that is finite, easily understood, and complete. It acknowledges that the transportation aspects of the project largely mirror the prior project and looks for future details already largely completed by our development team.“
In the increasingly bitter rivalry between Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts for the eastern Massachusetts casino license, Mohegan Sun officials have repeatedly suggested their project is much further along in the environmental approval process than the Wynn project in Everett. Wynn is seeking to build a casino on a heavily polluted stretch of land formerly occupied by a Monsanto chemical plant.
Mohegan Sun officials have suggested that their project will be up and running – and delivering tax revenue from gambling to the state – much faster than the Wynn project. That claim has become one of Mohegan Sun’s chief arguments in favor of its proposal. Wynn is also seeking state approval of its environmental impact report.
In his decision, Sullivan said Mohegan Sun needs to provide further analysis in a variety of areas, including traffic impacts on the Ted Williams, Sumner, and Callahan tunnels. He also said Mohegan Sun needs to analyze the casino project’s impact on wetlands and the local flood plain.
Elaine Driscoll, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, said a final environmental impact report will be needed to move ahead with any casino project, but she said a casino license could be awarded conditionally with a requirement that all environmental clearances and permits are obtained.“The commission will take into consideration construction and permitting timelines as part of their overall evaluation and analysis of the proposals. This does not appear to be something that would delay a commission license decision,” Driscoll said in an email. “It may, however, be something that would delay the permitting process for a licensee. “
The commission is currently expected to name the winning eastern Massachusetts casino licensee in June.