Posted on: July 21, 2023, 09:33h.
Last updated on: July 21, 2023, 09:42h.
Residents were inadequately informed that the Concord Planning Board was to vote on the proposal at its June meeting, according to the lawsuit submitted in Merrimack County Superior Court by Kassey Cameron, the Concord Monitor newspaper reported on Thursday.
Without proper notice, they did not show up to speak against the application. There were other errors, too, the lawsuit alleges.
This appeal stems from a drastic deprivation of the public’s right to due process — to meaningfully participate in the process of determining the significance of the impacts a proposed, large-scale casino, microbrewery, restaurant, and ultimately a hotel — and from several legal errors,” Cameron’s attorney, Amy Manzelli of BCM Environmental & Land Law of Concord, said in the appeal.
Cameron wants a judge to strike down the board’s conditional approval.
If the judge sides with Cameron, the application would be returned to the planning board for more review and, perhaps, another vote.
Many residents have warned that the casino could lead to increased crime and put a strain on the city’s emergency services.
The applicant, Andy Sanborn, a former state senator, was supposed to submit a study to predict the number of emergency calls the casino would create, the Monitor reported.
The board asked Sanborn in May to conduct a study projecting emergency calls. In June, he submitted to the board only one page of data, which basically cited numbers seen at nearby related businesses.
Board Was Ambushed
Sanborn reportedly only let planning staff know about the new data three hours before the start of the board’s June meeting. That led Planning Board Chair Richard Woodfin to call his actions “a little bit of an ambush.”
While the public was at home and not in attendance, the board not only took up the application, it digested new information it had just received, information it had previously found insufficient then approved it without the public ever having had any meaningful opportunity to be heard on it,” the lawsuit further claims.
The board approved the proposal by a 4-2 vote with one board member abstaining.
Among the conditions the board set on the project are a traffic signalization plan, providing sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and connections on Loudon Road, according to the Monitor.
The complex is to be placed in the city’s east side, at the intersection of Loudon and Sheep Davis roads.
The board’s vote led to immediate criticism.
“I was appalled to read that you ‘reluctantly approved’ Andy Sanborn’s proposed casino project … I am still trying to comprehend how you could ‘reluctantly approve’ such a thing without a public hearing,” one resident, Dan Williams, wrote to the Planning Board.
I know that the citizens of Concord, especially those of us that live around the corner from this proposed abomination, will be determined to stop this plan,” his letter added.
During a lengthy review process, opponents of the casino raised concerns about its impact on the environment, increased traffic, and other negatives, such as the risk of prostitution and illegal drugs.
A local environmental group that advocates for limited growth, the Concord Greenspace Coalition, gave board members a petition opposing the casino.
Under Sanborn’s plans, the first phase of the project will lead to a 26,000-square-foot gaming floor. It will include 634 seats and 486 electronic games, 21 table games, and a poker room. Also included will be an 8,500-square-foot restaurant and brewpub. It would have room for 150 diners.
A hotel and event space will be included in the second phase of construction. Developers could add more gaming space, too.
Supporters of the project pointed out that the casino will add more than 250 jobs and attract visitors to the city. They also note that charities will benefit from the gaming property.
As a charitable gaming operation, 35% of gross revenue from the casino will be sent to approved charities every 10 days.
Sanborn already owns Concord’s Draft Sports Bar and Grill and the Concord Casino.