Wynn Casino plan challenged over traffic impacts
By NBP Staff | September 30, 2015, 19:10 EST
BOSTON — Plans for a casino in Everett face a new roadblock after both Somerville and Boston sued to block the Wynn Resorts project on the shores of the Mystic River, claiming that the developer failed to adequately address environmental impacts, particularly traffic congestion it is likely to cause in Charlestown and Somerville.
Both cities sued a unit of Las Vegas-based Wynn over the process to obtain the environmental permits needed to build the $1.7 billion gambling resort. Somerville also named the state Gaming Commission as a defendant, saying the board issued a license for the casino without following proper procedures with respect to the environmental consequences.
Somerville’s lawyers cited “severe and unsafe traffic congestion that will be caused in Sullivan Square and elsewhere by the proposed casino.” The Boston Globe said Boston’s lawsuit estimated that the development will generate as many as 23,000 vehicle trips per day in the area, saying many would go through Sullivan Square in the city’s Charlestown section.
“This congestion will impact Somerville greatly, degrade the quality of life for its residents and businesses, and pose health concerns to several communities, including environmental justice communities,” Somerville’s lawsuit says, noting the city of 75,000 residents sits across the river from Everett and is as close as 76 feet away from Wynn’s 33.9 acre site.
Separately, the developer said that the Everett Planning Board approved the project’s site plan on Monday. It said the board’s unanimous vote lets Wynn apply for building permits as it begins cleaning up the site, which Somerville’s lawsuit notes is contaminated with hazardous wastes. Wynn said construction is slated to begin next year.
The casino project would house 3 million square feet of space, including a casino with 4,580 “gaming positions” and a 629-room hotel in a 386-foot tower, with more than a half-million square feet of retail areas, according to Somerville’s lawsuit. It would also have 3,400 parking spaces, with 800 more for workers off-site, the legal document says.
Both the Somerville and Boston lawsuits were filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston.
State Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton signed off on the project last month, saying that Wynn had presented a plan to effectively deal with traffic impacts, according to a report in Casino News Daily. It noted that Boston had sued to block the project earlier, citing a corrupt process used by the Gaming Commission to grant Wynn a license.