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Tewksbury rejects $200 million slot parlor

Tewksbury residents voted to reject a plan to build a $200 million slot machine parlor on 30 acres of land. (Photo credit should read PAUL J.RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images) Tewksbury residents voted to reject a plan to build a $200 million slot machine parlor on 30 acres of land. Credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The town of Tewksbury rejected a $200 million plan to build aMerrimack Valley slot parlor on 30 acres of commercial land off Route 133 near the Andover town line.

The Boston Globe reports the vote at a Special Town Meeting was 1,568 no to 995 yes for allowing zoning changes that would allow Penn National Gaming to build a 24-hour slots parlor on land now zoned for commercial and research use.

“We respect the decision of the residents of Tewksbury,” Eric Schippers, senior vice president of public affairs for Penn National Gaming, told the Globe. “They spoke loud and clear, and we respect that.”

More than 2,600 residents filled the Tewksbury Memorial High School gymnasium, cafeteria and auditorium to voice their opinions on the issue.

One Tewksbury resident, Mark Johnson, cited FBI statistics which he claimed show a 29 percent increase in crime in Bangor, where Penn National operates a slots parlor.

“Do we want to have more robberies in our town?” he asked the crowd.

But the meeting wasn't without those who were in favor of the idea to bring slots to Tewksbury.

“This is one step in the right direction to move the community forward,” Scott Wilson, chairman of the selectmen, told the audience.

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