Mohegan Sun to start selling discount gas to employees

Montville - Mohegan Sun hopes to start pumping cheap gas for its 8,000 employees by summer.

Both the town's Planning and Zoning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals have signed off on the casino's plan to locate a gas station on nearly an acre of land opposite the employees-only Trading Cove Parking Lot off Sandy Desert Road. The commission has approved a site plan and a special permit for the project, and the appeals board has OK'd the proposed location, Thomas Sanders, the town's assistant planner and zoning enforcement officer, said Thursday.

The plan calls for 10 pumps, six for gasoline and four for diesel fuel, as well as a small attendant's "shack," Sanders said.

Though virtually surrounded by the Mohegan Tribe's reservation, the gas-station site is located on a tribe-owned parcel that has not been taken into trust for the tribe by the federal government. As such, the parcel is subject to local regulation and taxes; reservation trust lands are not.

Tribal officials announced in September that they planned to build a discount gas station for employees to help offset the burden of cost-cutting measures that culminated in the laying off of 475 employees. At that time, officials said they hoped to offer gasoline to employees at prices ranging from 5 to 30 cents a gallon less than the going rate.

Ray Pineault, Mohegan Sun's executive vice president and chief operating officer, said the gas station had been planned before the layoffs occurred.

"We're always trying to give value back to the employees whenever we can," he said, "Now, with the rising gas prices, it will be a very good benefit. It'll lessen the blow of the commute."

Pineault said employees would activate the station's pumps through a special card or badge. He said all casino employees would be eligible to use the facility.

Mohegan Sun will negotiate the purchase of the gas with a distributor and sell an unbranded product at a discount, Pineault said. "The price will be fluctuating every day," he said, adding that he could not predict how much the discount would be.

Gas stations nearest the casino on Route 12 in Preston and on Route 32 in Montville were selling regular unleaded for $3.70 a gallon Thursday.

Mohegan Sun has long operated a 24-hour Mobil-branded gas station for casino patrons on the outbound side of Mohegan Sun Boulevard, which is on reservation land. Patrons can redeem the player's club points they earn at the casino for gas, or pay cash.

The 20 pumps at the station, including four for diesel, dispense fuel at well above market prices. On Thursday, regular unleaded was going for $4.68 a gallon, premium unleaded for just under $5.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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