NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 2, 2013

Board says no to casino

Selectmen vote against slots-only development

SALISBURY — A 120,000-square-foot slots-only casino in not in the cards for Salisbury.

Selectmen voted 3 to 2 last night against trying to negotiate a hosting agreement with the Maryland real estate development company that wanted to build one on Route 110.

The vote came after a short discussion at a specially called selectmen’s meeting that started at 7 p.m. But it followed a 4:30 p.m. workshop that lasted for 90 minutes, where Baltimore-based Cordish Companies pulled out all the stops by bringing in architects, engineers and a lawyer to make the presentation in hopes of persuading selectmen not to reject the idea.

Conceptual drawings showed a roughly 120,000-square-foot, 1,250-machine casino, with three restaurants, a theater and five-story, 1,071-vehicle garage. The complex totaling 190,000 square feet was proposed for an 11-acre lot owned by Bruce Arakelian, and currently partially occupied by Vision Max cinema and the Sylvan Street Grille.

Salisbury had everything a casino needed, according to Cordish’s Director of Development Jeffrey Snyder: a great site, terrific access to major interstates and located on a state highway with proximity to moderately sized communities like Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Haverhill and Southern New Hampshire.

Residents also had a chance to speak, and Bob Carroll and Jim Dondero spoke against allowing the “slot parlor” in town, fearing it would lower home values, bring an unwanted impact to town, along with a type of business that was not of significant standard.

To have pursued the proposal, by July 25 selectmen would have had to negotiate and sign a hosting agreement that would delineate what Cordish would be required to do to protect residents, including how it would mitigate all the impacts the large development would bring to the community. The contract deadline was engraved in stone, because it’s only the first phase in the legal process required for locating a slots casino in the state.

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