Municipal leaders from Kingston to Taunton, East Bridgewater to Freetown are slated to meet Wednesday to discuss potential impacts of a pro posed Middleboro casino.

Municipal leaders from Kingston to Taunton, East Bridgewater to Freetown are slated to meet Wednesday to discuss potential impacts of a pro posed Middleboro casino.


Selectmen invited 15 area communities to the forum as casino talk heats up throughout the region, Town Administrator Rita Garbitt said Wednesday.


"We have been receiving letters from surrounding communities, talking about their concerns," Garbitt said. "Traffic is the main concern."


Residential development and education are also among the concerns being expressed by communities that include Plympton, Wareham and Kingston, she said.


"We're concerned about the potential traffic with routes 44 and 3," Kingston Town Administrator Kevin Donovan said. Kingston and Plympton expressed their concerns in letters to the governor, as well.


Garbitt said 14 of the 15 communities invited to the meeting had responded with their intent to attend. She awaited the last response.


The Lakeville meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Lakeville Library. Officially, it is a selectmen's meeting to which selectmen and city councilors from the other communities have been invited. The meeting is open to the public.


Potential impacts of a casino will also be discussed when the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic District's Commission meets at the same time at Dartmouth Town Hall.


Though a bit worried about the Lakeville meeting cutting into attendance at the SRPEDD meeting, executive director Stephen Smith said. The regional planning agency represents 27 communities in southeastern Massachusetts and is working in concert with the Old Colony Planning Council that represents 15 agencies from Stoughton to Plymouth to address potential impacts of a casino. OCPC's traffic arm is expected to discuss the casino and potential impacts at a meeting on July 26.


Smith said SRPEDD will send representatives to the Lakeville meeting and expects 15 to 20 towns to be represented at the commission meeting to outline expectations a casino developer would need to meet for appropriate traffic study and economic analysis.


"In order to evaluate fairly any proposal that comes to the table, we want to make sure the tribe does studies that adequately rep resent the influence of a casino," Smith said.


The primary traffic concern is Route 44, primarily the Middleboro traffic rotary that is already a problem, he said. The state has proposed some improvements, but he said extensive work would be needed to accommodate casino traffic.


Casino talk is not new to SRPEDD.


"We, in fact, have seen these things come and go before - in the '90s in Fall River and New Bedford - without anything happening," Smith said.


But, this time the land is al ready secured and the momentum is motivating local and regional leaders to prepare.


Elaine Allegrini of The Enterprise (Brockton, Mass.) can be reached at eallegrini@enterprisenews.com.