A year ago today the voters of Tewksbury at a Special Town Meeting spoke for quality of life and other community concerns. A gathering of 2,563 voters officially assembled at Tewksbury High School for a Special Town to Meeting. The issue – a Slots Parlor proposal… it was to be build on the pastoral but business-zoned Ames Pond Drive property off Rte. 133 in North Tewksbury. For the Selectmen-endorsed project to move forward, one third +1 of the voters participating needed to vote “Yes.” The proposal emerged publically in the early summer when many residents were vacationing or otherwise engaged. A proposal of this magnitude was never expected at this time of year, with little opportunity for research, discussion or thoughtful reflection. But a band of concerned citizens across the spectrum of party, economics, age and town geography quickly did the homework, shared the information, had meetings, stood with NO SLOTS signs and got the word out to the unsuspecting public. At one of the largest Town Meetings every held in Tewksbury, on the question of amending the “Tewksbury Zoning By-Law and the Zoning Map…” the final count stood at 995 votes “Yes” and a resounding 1568 “No” votes. The tally told the tale! The voters of Tewksbury with little notice in the midst of Summer rallied for the cause of “NO SLOTS” and they prevailed! There will be no Slots Parlor in North Tewksbury! What happened in Tewksbury spread elsewhere in the Commonwealth where other citizens stood tall against gaming in their communities. (Some even used the Tewksbury NO SLOTS signs!) Here is my post from August 20, 2013 ~
Tewksbury Town Meeting Defeats New Zoning Article to Allow a Slots Parlor
Tonight over 2500 registered voters in the Town of Tewksbury gathered in three locations in the town’s new high school – the gym, the cafeteria and the auditorium to deal with one issue on the Special Town Meeting Warrant. “To see if the Town will vote to amend the Tewksbury Zoning By-Law and the Zoning Map by adding section 8700 to the Zoning By-Law and adding the overlay map described below…” Passage of the article would have allowed Penn National Gaming to establish a Category 2 gaming establishment on Ames Pond Drive – off Route 133 in North Tewksbury. This article was unanimously recommended by the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee. The Planning Board recommendation came on a 3-2 vote.
After two delays, hearing a number of speakers – but no one who was not from Tewksbury other than the Town Manager – a motion to move the question offered early on led to a standing vote of the voters present. Passage needed a two thirds vote of approval. The results: Voting YES = 995; Voting NO = 1568. The Town Clerk told me that 1709 YES votes were need for passage. The NOs prevailed at 61.2%.
Over 2500 voters gathered in three spaces in the high school tonight… Photo from the Tewksbury Patch website
This marked the end of this phase of PNG’s attempt to bring SLOTS to Tewksbury. A scheduled/posted town-wide ballot is happening on Saturday September 21, 2013. This balloting will go forward despite the failure to pass the zoning change article. Stay-tuned.