Wynn Resorts Receives Environmental Approval for Boston Harbor Project
Posted on: July 18, 2016, 02:51h.
Last updated on: October 12, 2016, 08:35h.
Wynn Resorts’ legal battle to get its $2.1 billion project in Everett, near Boston, off the ground received a boost on Friday when the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommended the company for a waterfront development permit.
The Everett project, which will be known as the Wynn Boston Harbor, has been beset by legal challenges at every turn, despite having been awarded a state gaming license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in late 2014.
Wynn has been sued by the City of Boston, as well as the City of Somerville, across the water from the former chemical plant on which project will be built. Meanwhile, the City of Revere, where a competing Mohegan Sun proposal failed to win over the gaming commission, has sued the gaming commission for failing to be won over by its competing proposal.
While the Boston lawsuit was thrown out in December 2015 by a judge who blasted it for being “spurious,” and filled with “inflammatory descriptions,” and “hyperbole,” the Somerville challenge remained the only impediment to proceeding.
Contaminated with Arsenic and Lead
Construction was halted four months ago when Somerville’s mayor, Joseph Curtatone appealed the waterfront permit that had initially been approved by the DEP in January. The casino is to be built on the former Monsanto Chemical Plant, a plot of land that has been contaminated with lead, arsenic, and other pollutants for decades. The clean-up operation is expected to cost Wynn $30 million.
The Somerville complaint focuses on the effects of increased traffic and air pollution on the city that may arise with the new casino.
“One does not need to be a casino enthusiast to recognize and acknowledge the benefit that accrues to a city when a long-dormant contaminated waste site is cleaned up and brought back to useful life,” wrote Jane Rothchild, a hearing officer for the DEP.
Following a hearing that included the testimonies six witnesses, and briefs submitted by lawyers from both parties, Rothchild recommended that the permit should be granted, provided that Wynn makes some alterations to its pans.
These include increasing the amount of open space surrounding the property as well as adding certain waterfront amenities, such as a ferry service and a fishing pier. These, she said, would “complement the multipurpose dock at the casino site and provide additional activation of the Mystic River waterfront and the greater access to the watershed for smaller crafts.”
Wynn Resorts has indicated it is happy to comply with the changes. The final decision now rests with DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg and is expected within the next few weeks. Curtatone told the Boston Globe that he is considering an appeal.
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