A Resort Casino in Sanford…
How can Southern Maine
participate, prepare, and respond?

York County Municipal Association
June 26, 2003
Spring Hill Lodge, South Berwick
Paul Schumacher, Executive Director
J.T. Lockman, Planning Director

A Resort Casino Proposal….
Where are we now in the process?
What are the existing conditions?
What could happen? - IMPACTS
What will we do? - ACTIONS
What  is the role of surrounding towns in the decision-making process?
How will studies, assessments, or needed improvements be funded?

Context of Proposed Casino Resort
Location of Proposed Site
Roads and Approaches
Surrounding Features

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Transportation - Existing Conditions
Existing approaches to the Casino site have noticeable capacity issues at this time.
Intersection problems and occasional bottlenecks occur in neighboring towns already.

Transportation - Impacts
Significant road and intersection improvements will be needed in Sanford and surrounding communities, and funding will be tricky.
Other casino resorts rely heavily on motorcoaches.
The Downeaster has capacity issues.  Conflicts with freight traffic will make additions to passenger train schedule challenging.

Transportation - Impacts
Other roads besides Rt. 109 will experience traffic increases, as Mainers north of Wells, and New Hampshire residents approach from other directions.
Significant additional resources would be needed to estimate such impacts.

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Housing – Existing Conditions
We’re already in a housing crisis, without the growth a proposed casino might bring…

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Housing - Existing Conditions
There is a very low supply of apartments or houses for rent, with little new stock planned.
Housing prices have climbed faster than incomes, leading to significant affordability problems throughout the region.

Housing - Impacts
Demand for new single family housing will outstrip supply, with or without a casino, particularly with many towns having adopted building caps.
It is hard to predict how many new employees will relocate to this area, or how many will commute to their new job.

Housing - Impacts
Demand for multi-family housing will increase.
Single-family homeowners may offer lodging to new employees as “boarders.”
Long-term rental of lodging units as housing will increase.
Significant additional resources would be needed to estimate such impacts.

Labor Market - Existing Conditions
While unemployment is generally low in York County, Sanford typically has higher rates of unemployment at any time than other communities in the County.
However, a large casino could not be served by existing labor from within the Sanford Labor Market Area.

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Labor Market - Impacts
With a large casino project, long term commuting and in-migration would occur, but it will be difficult to predict the allocation.
Workers would be drawn from surrounding counties and areas, including New Hampshire, Central Maine, and Northern Massachusetts.
Already, some summer service industries are bringing in workers from outside the region on a temporary basis.
During the construction phase, agreements to hire organized labor may lead to significant commuting to the site.

Labor Market - Impacts
USM Economist Charles Colgan predicts that a casino would draw service workers from the existing service businesses, because of higher pay, hours, and benefits, and year-round work opportunities.

Public Services - Existing Conditions
Many communities near the proposed casino rely on Sheriff patrols, and have relatively thin police and emergency coverage overnight, particularly in winter months.
MSAD’s 57 and 71, and the Wells-Ogunquit CSD are constructing new schools now because of capacity/facility obsolescence issues.
Sanford is facing declining enrollment and facility closings.

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Public Services - Existing Conditions
The new York County Jail, opening soon, was designed before a large casino resort was proposed for this County.  Its future capacity should be re-analyzed based upon experiences of other similarly-sized resort casinos.

Public Services - Impacts
Impacts on Schools, Police & Emergency Services, Jail and Courts are very hard to predict, since experiences of casino host communities vary widely.
Significant additional resources would be needed to estimate such impacts.

What  is the role of surrounding towns in the decision-making process?
Town of Sanford Contract Rezoning Process
DEP Site Law Review
Regional Planning Commission Statute
Role of SMRPC

Regional Input - Town of Sanford Contract Rezoning Process
Enabled by a State Statute, and allows municipalities to impose conditions in exchange for a rezoning
Conditions must relate to the “physical development or operation of the property.”
It is unclear whether this might include requirements to provide off-site improvements outside of the Town of Sanford.
The entire site plan approval process is folded into the contract rezoning application.

Regional Input - Town of Sanford Contract Rezoning Process
Sanford will be changing from a Town Meeting to a Town Council form of government next January.
The Contract Rezoning may go to a Town vote in Sanford, depending on timing and/or the wishes of the Selectmen/Councilors.
Any rezoning could be put to a town vote by citizen petition

Regional Input - Town of Sanford Contract Rezoning Process
By its very nature, contract zoning allows the Board or Council to consider uses that are not currently allowed by the existing ordinance….
However, DEP in its Site Law Process may not be willing to conduct a review of a casino application until the use is legalized.

Regional Input - DEP Site Law Review
Impacts on Wildlife, Wetlands, Drainage, Endangered or Threatened Species
Impacts on Municipal Sewage Treatment Plant – Discharge License
Impacts to State Roads at Entrance, Nearby Intersections, Traffic Levels
Opportunity for regional municipalities to provide input at the “scoping” meeting, and presumably at a hearing of the Board of Environmental Protection.

Regional Input - Regional Planning Commission Statute
30-A M.R.S.A. 2305  et seq.
Statute encourages regional solutions through the RPC without creating new entities unless necessary.
RPC may study any problem common to 2 or more members that it considers appropriate.

Regional Input - Regional Planning Commission Statute
The RPC may “promote cooperative arrangements and coordinate action among its members.
It may “make recommendations for review and action to its members and other public agencies that perform functions within the region.”

Regional Input - Regional Planning Commission Statute
RPC’s may review municipal actions which in the RPC's judgment have a substantial effect on regional development, such as zoning ordinance amendments.
The RPC is empowered to conduct hearings if necessary.
RPC’s may make recommendations on the basis of its plans or studies.

Role of County
So far, the Commissioners as a group have not “weighed in,” and do not see a county role in the decision-making.
There is no explicit role for counties in “local” land use decisions.
Potential impacts on the Sheriff’s Department, Courts, and Jail.

Comparing Us to Others…
We can’t copy a plan by following the trail of other communities or regions that have experienced casino development, because our forms of government are so different.
Maine has no County government involvement in land use planning
The degree of municipal control is unprecedented when compared to other parts of the United States.
There is no State or Regional Review of large developments in Maine, other than Site Law
Nationally, many casinos are on Tribal Land, and this project will be on private land with municipal approval.

Role of SMRPC?
Holder of forums and hearings to gather input
Coordinate regional municipal input for Site Law Permit process by DEP, and for Contract Zoning and Site Review by Town of Sanford
Clearing house for gathering existing research on casino impacts and developing new information on projected impacts

Role of SMRPC?
SMRPC could administer a regional grant or revolving loan fund for projects to mitigate impacts from the casino, unforeseen during the approval process.  Other states have set up such a mechanism funded by a percentage of casino revenues.
This structure could be in the form of a foundation, development district, regional authority, or any other entity supported by an interlocal agreement.

What are we doing now?
We are seeking funding to study the regional impacts of a casino resort in York County, and to devise a process for surrounding municipalities to participate in the the decision-making.
The State Planning Office has allowed us to devote a significant portion of our FY04 contract to this project.

What are we doing now?
We are seeking a $15,000 Regional Challenge Grant from the SPO to fund the project, which will require a $15,000 match.
We wish to obtain matching funds from the municipalities and from the Tribes, through the Town of Sanford’s contract rezoning process.

What are we doing now?
While using tribal or developer monies, even in pass-through fashion, is controversial, it is no different than the way all other types of development review studies are typically funded.
If no developer funds are employed, significant municipal funding will be necessary.

Why start now?
Regional planning work for transportation and housing is vitally important, and the casino proposal is a “wake-up call” for us to work together.
Even if the statewide vote on the proposed casino fails in November, or if Sanford rejects a contract rezoning, we believe that plans for a casino in this region will continue in some fashion.
The time to determine our regional needs, and to make sure they are considered in an approval process is RIGHT NOW.

Contact Us:

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