MEDFORD

PROPOSED: Double VLT capacity at Medford site

Suffolk OTB reveals casino details during virtual informational meeting

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Suffolk OTB revealed site plans for a 2,000 virtual lottery terminal casino at the highly contested Long Island Expressway service road Medford site late last week, which is equal to double the gaming capacity of the currently operating Jake’s 58 casino in Islandia, just 10 miles away.

According to Suffolk OTB, the Town of Brookhaven requested they hold a meeting after the site plan application was submitted to the planning board back in December 2020. OTB officials said the site plan is currently pending. However, Brookhaven Town planning officials stated that the submitted application is incomplete, after requests for additional information were not met.

During the meeting, planning consultant Chic Voorhis stated that the proposed building would be two-stories with approximately 192,000 square feet measuring at no more than 40 feet high.

The site, he noted, is surrounded by the Long Island Expressway to the north, an industrial area to the south, and wooded areas to the east and west, and met by residential almost 500 feet from the building to the west. The site is zoned mixed commercial recreational and A1 residential. However, the A1 residential, he noted, would not be utilized or developed, but rather serve as a larger buffer between homes to the west.

“The nearest residence to the west would be about 500 feet from the development,” he said. “This is the proposed key feature; 7.12 acres [will] remain wooded on the west side of the site.”

As for the site itself, it would house a gaming area with 2,000 virtual lottery
terminals and require a special permit for the restaurant accessory use. Site
access will be made solely to the north with two access points and one emergency-only gated entrance/exit to the southern rear. The site would also feature 2,000 spaces with multilevel building and rear ground-level parking with plantings and trees as per code, accompanied by proper lighting and cameras for safety measures. To the north, a 100-foot berm would be featured with “extensive landscaping” and a setback from the service  road. No variances would be required.

The building in the presentation also featured “Jake’s” signage as well as a large skylight and a metal curtain wall façade.

The meeting was held virtually via Zoom on Thursday, Jan. 14. Approximately 10 people attended, but no one spoke after notices were sent to organizations including ABCO, the Medford Ambulance Company, chamber of commerce, fire department and the taxpayers and civic associations. The notice was also published in this publication the week prior.

“This is an informal meeting and there will be other meetings and formal proceedings,” promised Guy W. Germano, Suffolk OTB’s attorney, addressing the public prior to the presentation made by the environmental consultants on the project from Nelson Pope Voorhis.

However, the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association president Brett
Houdek wrote OTB officials prior to the meeting suggesting that they would not attend, citing the following reasons: OTB gave limited documents requested by the civic prior to the meeting and the site plan indicates a gambling facility with video lottery terminals that they have “no legal authority” to proceed with.

State law currently limits OTB to a single site with no more than 1,000 terminals, all of which are currently housed at the Jake’s 58 Islandia site.
Houdek went on to reference the improper zoning issues and OTB’s misinterpretation of the code requirements for restaurants.

“These items seem to limit your ability to proceed with this project,” he wrote.
“Should you correct these deficits by demonstrating your authority to construct at the Medford site with the proper zoning and a fully vetted site plan proposal, we stand ready to meet with you and perform a more thorough review.”

Still, according to OTB spokesperson Jon Schneider, OTB is either going to
develop the Medford location or sell it to an entity that will.

“We are taking all necessary steps to retain all our options,” he noted of the
reasoning behind the proposal. “Jake’s 58 is the most successful casino in New
York State and our market analysis shows there is a large unmet demand for
additional machines, which would help keep more revenue in Suffolk County, create additional jobs, and provide additional funding for education and Suffolk County essential workers. That is why we are seeking state authorization for
1,000 additional machines and expansion, either in Islandia or Medford.”

A more formal public hearing will be held upon completion of the environmental impact study, Germano continued. Details, he added, will be made available for public viewing on the OTB website after a hearing is scheduled.

Additionally, the town planning board for consideration of the application
would have to conduct a hearing. No time frame or dates were given.

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