State environmental officials have ordered Mohegan Sun to launch a new study of the environmental impact of its proposed casino project, a setback that rival Wynn Resorts says could substantially delay the opening of a Revere casino, even if the state gambling commission approves it.
Mohegan Sun officials had hoped that an earlier impact report prepared by Caesars Entertainment for a casino that would have straddled the East Boston-Revere line would be enough. But Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. informed the company that the current plan has changed substantially from Caesars’ and must be evaluated separately.
“We think they certainly have a lot of work to do,” said Wynn development manager Chris Gordon, adding that since the project has moved from East Boston to Revere, there are a host of potential new problems that need to be assessed. The Revere casino, for example, sits in a flood plain, while the Suffolk Downs site did not.
Mohegan Sun officials said their team had already been reviewing the issues raised in Sullivan’s decision and can address most questions easily. They said that if awarded a license, they can begin construction as planned in 2014.
“Friday’s decision keeps the Mohegan Sun project on track to meet or exceed the permitting and contribution timetable detailed in our submissions with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, “ said Gary Luderitz, Mohegan Sun’s vice president of development.
The gambling commission, which expects to award a sole license in Eastern Massachusetts by the end of June, does not require applicants to have approved environmental impact studies to receive a license. But they need approval before construction can begin.
Wynn Resorts officials said that if they are awarded the license, they can begin construction in September.
Maeve Vallely Bartlett, the state environmental affairs undersecretary, said the request for a new impact study of the Revere casino plan is not unusual, given the size of the project.
“This is not a monumental thing,” she said. “There are differences in the project, and their impacts are based on the site. The site was in East Boston, and now it’s in Revere. We’re asking for basic environmental information on the new project.”
Suffolk Downs racetrack abandoned the East Boston-
Revere casino proposal after voters in East Boston rejected the plan last year. Caesars was dumped from the project even before the vote. Mohegan Sun stepped in as the developer and has pressed ahead with a proposal located on 40 acres in Revere, which strongly supported the casino plan.
Sullivan asked Mohegan Sun to revise its traffic study to reflect the new location and to provide an updated assessment of public transportation requirements, a new pedestrian and bicycle plan, and a new analysis of parking supply and demand.
In addition, Mohegan Sun will have to describe the impact of plans to relocate horse barns and create a system to handle animal waste. The horse barns have been declared historic by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.