SUFFOLK COUNTY

Medford casino plans push forward

OTB holds Environmental Impact Study hearing

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The Suffolk Off Track Betting Corporation, as lead agency, has accepted a Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Suffolk Off Track Betting in Medford. A virtual public hearing on the DEIS was held, virtually, on March 3.

About 15 people attended the meeting, including a handful of OTB representatives; only one person spoke against the proposal and no one spoke for it.

SEQRA requires every DEIS to consider alternatives to a proposed project or action. The DEIS was made available at the Patchogue-Medford Library and online on the OTB website. The proposed plan includes construction and operation of an “indoor amusement establishment” with capacity for 2,000 video lottery terminals.

The site plan includes a 160,516-squarefoot building with a 31,816-square-foot mezzanine. Overall, the 192,332-squarefoot building will contain a 123,790-squarefoot gaming area with 25,210 square feet of amenity space, 25,000 square feet for office space and 18,332 square feet of miscellaneous space including a cashier, vault, sally port, loading area, and mechanical space.

The plan also features an on-site sewage treatment plant and three levels of subsurface parking containing 1,384 spaces, as well as additional 963 outdoor spaces. The only access to the site will be provided via the Long Island Expressway’s south service road with an emergency-only access point to the rear on Long Island Avenue. The property is zoned Commercial Recreation and A-1 Residential, which will not be developed. The site has been previously cleared and paved, having housed a multiplex movie theater at one point that has since been removed.

According to the document completed by Nelson Pope Voorhis, the CR zone is an as-of-right use as an “indoor amusement establishment”; however, it requires a special permit from the town planning board for the accessory use of a restaurant.

The proposal also includes incorporation of NYS Energy Code conservation standards, increased insulation values for the building, a large membrane skylight on the roof to allow daylight into the interior of the building and reduce indoor artificial lighting, installation of low-emissivity energy-efficient double-pane glazed window treatments to make cooling and heating more efficient, photovoltaic panels on the roof to generate renewable energy for the facility, electric vehicle charging stations, and LED lighting. Also, exterior lighting will consist of low-energy-consuming LED dark skies lighting, which will comply with the requirements of Brookhaven Town Code.

The plan also mentions preferentially hiring persons who live in the Medford zip code area and reducing long employee commutes. They will also provide a bus drop-off area at the rear entrance of the building to support mass transportation.

Medford Civic Association president Bret Houdek was the sole speaker. He spoke in objection to the project citing New York State Law, which currently doesn’t authorize the operation of more than one site housing no more than 1,000 VLTs. OTB currently owns and operates 1,000 VLTS just 10 miles down the road at Jake’s 58 in Islandia.

“I want to know where in New York State law you have the authorization to do what you are doing right now,” he said during the public hearing. “You are diverting funds that should be going to education. We are asking the NYS comptroller to review this inappropriate expenditure.”

OTB officials did not respond to his comment, but rather noted it will be kept as part of the documented hearing.

Houdek also claimed Suffolk OTB was using the site as a “Trojan horse,” having read in the 282-page document that the site has capacity for 3,000 VLTs as opposed to the proposed 2,000. He continued to claim that the proposal is not defined as an indoor amusement establishment but rather a gambling facility and thus not included in town CR code, and also noted that due to the nature of the special permit request for an accessory restaurant, the proposal would have to go before the town board.

The public can send written comments to:
Anthony Pancella, III
Suffolk Regional Off Track Betting, 425 Oser Avenue, Suite 2 Hauppauge, NY 11788
or email: pancellaa@suffolkotb.com  before March 17.

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