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MGM Resorts reaches out to abutting communities

Date: 4/4/2013

By Carley Dangona

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Resorts International is the first of two companies interested in a Springfield casino to contact abutting communities with a copy of its Notification Form.

In accordance with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), MGM contacted municipal officials to Agawam, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Ludlow, West Springfield and Wilbraham.

Mike Mathis, vice president of MGM Global Gaming Development, said, "Today we are reaching out to officials in communities around the project to let them know that we are initiating the state's environmental review process. We hope to meet with folks in person very soon and begin a dialogue specific to the environmental review."

According to Colleen McGlynn, spokesperson for the company, MGM has scheduled meetings with the Board of Selectmen in East Longmeadow and Wilbraham. MGM will also attend the April 11 MEPA meeting at 3 p.m. in the MassMutual Center.

Richard Theroux, Agawam town clerk and chair of its Casino Committee, said, "In our opinion, we are an abutting community to the MGM project." He added that while the Connecticut River physically separates Agawam from the south end of Springfield, the property lines are adjacent to each other.

Theroux noted that Hard Rock International, the company that seeks to build a resort casino on the fairgrounds of the Eastern States Exposition, has also communicated with officials in Agawam.

"The real issue is that the state is still defining the regulations outlining what rights abutting communities have," Theroux said. "We're a little ahead of the curve [in researching its role as an abutter]. We want to know what's going on. It's frustrating because we have no say no vote, no veto in whether a casino comes to Western Massachusetts. All we can do is work within the scope of the laws to ensure the community is protected as best it can be."

Brian Griffin, West Springfield Town Council vice president and chair of its Casino subcommittee, said, "It's great that MGM has reached out. Doing so demonstrates that MGM is serious about its project. We look forward to the discussion."

In its Environmental Notification MGM estimated that construction of its project would take 27 to 30 months after all required permits are acquired.

MGM anticipated having to obtain permits for highway access, sewer construction, a construction dewatering permit, a Chapter 91 license from the Department of Environmental Protection — pertaining to the protection of waterways — a storage permit from the Department of Public Safety, a conservation and management permit from the Division of Fish and Game and a permit for urban renewal or redevelopment from the Department of Housing and Community Development.

MGM also pledged to adhere to regulations of both state and national historic registers to preserve the historical properties within the area of its proposed casino.

Ed Sullivan, chair of West Springfield Mayor Gregory Neffinger's Casino Commission, could not be reached for comment.