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Massachusetts gambling regulators delay decision on proposed Hardwick racetrack

 Horses racing at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois, in 2009.
Paul Kehrer
Creative Commons/flickr.com/86366039@N00
Horses racing at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois in 2009.

Massachusetts gambling regulators decided Monday to suspend a vote on a proposed horse-racing track in Hardwick, Massachusetts.

That's after some residents submitted a petition opposing the project.

Hardwick is a rural community of less than 3,000 people about 20 miles west of Worcester.

A developer and a horse breeder want to build a racetrack there. They estimate there could be thousands of spectators on weekends.

Robert Page, who is a member of Hardwick Concerned Citizens, said the facility would put a strain on the town's limited infrastructure.

"The notion of having that many cars, that many horse trailers, that many patrons — that part of it is a real concern of ours," he said.

The Hardwick Board of Selectmen signed off on the project last week. However, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission held off on voting on whether to approve it after learning of a petition signed by more than 400 residents.

The town selectmen will now have to meet to reconsider their votes. If the board does not withdraw its approval, Hardwick residents will also have to approve the project during a special election to be held within 45 days. Otherwise the project cannot move forward.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.