TIVERTON CASINO - Potential changes needed to include casino

July 2016

From Newport Daily News --Twin River attorney Mark Russo told the Planning Board the company wanted to address the comprehensive plan amendment now, which would include a detailed description of the proposed project, so voters in November would know exactly what they were voting on. 

See full article here. TIVERTON CASINO | Potential changes needed to include casino | By Marcia Pobzeznik, Correspondent

The town’s comprehensive community plan would have to be amended to include a casino but discussing it now could be premature, some Planning Board members said, because voters still have to decide in November if they want a casino here or not.

“Is it putting the cart before the horse?” Planning Board member Susan Gill asked at the monthly board meeting Tuesday night that was attended by many representatives of Twin River Worldwide Holdings. They were there to talk about the comprehensive-plan changes that would be needed and zoning overlay for the proposed casino site on William S. Canning Boulevard, some 400 feet from the Massachusetts border on the east side of the town.

No detailed discussion was held because of the lengthy agenda. The board voted unanimously to have a special meeting, possibly on July 19, for Twin River to present its proposal to the board and talk more about the proposed amendments to the economic development and land-use sections of the comprehensive plan.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings is the owner of Twin River Casino in Lincoln and Newport Grand slots parlor in Newport. It wants to move its gaming license from Newport to Tiverton and add table games. Newport voters have twice rejected adding table games.

Twin River has proposed building a $75 million casino with 1,000 slot machines and several dozen table games and 84-room hotel on a 45-acre parcel of woodlands near the state line, but both Tiverton voters and voters statewide would have to approve the ballot question in November.
Moving the casino license to Tiverton would move the operation “closer to the populations we serve,” Twin River Worldwide Holdings Chairman John Taylor Jr. has said, noting that a significant number of its customers come from Massachusetts. He said there are more than 20 traffic lights between Tiverton and Newport Grand in Newport.

Twin River attorney Mark Russo told the Planning Board the company wanted to address the comprehensive plan amendment now, which would include a detailed description of the proposed project, so voters in November would know exactly what they were voting on.

Because the project is so specific, Planning Board member Rosemary Eva questioned if an overlay district for the parcel proposed for the casino could be considered spot zoning.The issue of spot zoning could be avoided by amending the plan to include a casino, said Assistant Town Solicitor Peter Skwirz.

“The courts will look at the zoning to see if it is consistent with the comp plan of the town,” Skwirz said. Because the town’s proposed updated comprehensive plan is now before Statewide Planning, amendments could not be made until the state sends its comments on the draft plan back to the town sometime in September, Gill said, citing her recent conversation with a staff member at Statewide Planning.

Most of the property eyed for the casino is zoned highway commercial and allows for restaurants and hotels, so the only exception would be a gambling facility, said Gill, who asked why the zoning use table can’t just be changed to include that.

Getting special permits for the exception could take more time, Russo said. “We want a streamlined process,” he said of why Twin River is proposing a zoning overlay district that would set down exactly what would be built at the site.

“The zoning overlay sets a baseline and we’re limited to these things,” Russo said.
If voters approve the casino in November, Twin River hopes to open Twin River Tiverton in July 2018. The town would be guaranteed $3 million annually from gambling revenue, according to legislation approved by the General Assembly. The town would realize another $1 million in property taxes, casino officials have said.

A roundabout is planned at the busy intersection where traffic would exit the roundabout onto a driveway for the casino. An emergency-only entrance and egress would be on Stafford Road.