Wynn Resorts won a key state approval for its Boston-area casino late Friday, bringing the $1.7 billion project billed as the state's largest single private development another step closer to finally breaking ground.
Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton wrote in a 27-page memo that Wynn's plan to address traffic and environmental impacts "adequately and properly complies" with the state Environmental Policy Act, which calls for development projects to take all reasonable measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental damage.
The finding, he said, sets in motion more detailed permitting, review and approval processes at the local, state and federal levels for the project, which is proposed for over 30 acres of former industrial land across from Boston on the Everett waterfront.
Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said in a statement that the announcement is "validation of the planning, hard work and perseverance of everyone involved."
Steve Wynn, who has at times taken a combative tone in his push to open a casino here, called the over two-year long application process, which involved Wynn submitting over 10,000 pages of plans, "open and fair."
"The process has been meticulous and hard fought and undoubtedly will continue to be so," he said in a statement. "At moments like this, there is certainly a feeling of gratification and forward movement. It lifts our spirits and energizes us."
But Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has been a vocal opponent of the project and is among those suing to halt it, promised his administration will "continue to fight for the best interests and public safety" of residents in Charlestown, the city neighborhood located near the proposed casino.
The intrigue over Wynn's bid for the relatively obscure state certificate had ramped up in recent weeks as Friday's decision deadline approached.
Mayor Walsh, state Attorney General Maura Healey and city leaders in nearby Revere and Somerville had called on Beaton to deny the certificate until a long-term plan to address traffic in the heavily traveled Sullivan Square near the proposed casino was in place.
Boston, Revere and Somerville are suing the state Gaming Commission over its 2014 decision to award Wynn the license, saying the process was severely compromised. Healey is opposed to casinos and lives in Charlestown.
But Wynn and state Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack argued the casino company should not be held responsible for traffic problems that stretch back decades.
Beaton on Friday sided with Wynn and Pollack in that respect.
He required that the complex, longer-term traffic issues around Sullivan Square be addressed through a regional working group led by Pollack's agency and involving Wynn, Boston and other area cities and other stakeholders.
Beaton also lauded Wynn's commitment to invest over $7 million over 15 years into subway operations, a step he said was unprecedented by a private developer in Massachusetts.