BANGOR (AP) – Despite unexpected opposition from the planning board, Maine’s first racetrack casino is back on track.

The City Council voted 7-1 on Monday to override the planning board’s recommendation against a new zoning district that would allow Penn National to begin construction in May on a $75 million racino containing 1,500 slot machines at the city’s Bass Park complex.

With the council having the final say, Councilor Dan Tremble made it clear Tuesday that the board’s 3-2 vote last week on the zoning measure would not derail the project.

“It’s smooth sailing, and slots will be coming to Bangor,” Tremble said. “We’re comfortable that the people of Bangor voted for this, and we’re moving forward.”

The planning board’s opposition was based in part on perceived vagueness in the language of the zoning amendment.

Monday’s council vote defined what activities would be allowed in the new zoning district, but did not establish the district’s size and boundaries. The public will have a chance to comment on that issue.

Even if city officials approve the project, gambling opponents are mounting a campaign to block it.

A group called No Slots for ME! is collecting signatures in hopes of overturning the law allowing slots at Bangor Raceway. The group said recently that it had collected only about half the 50,519 needed.

signatures and planned on delaying its repeal effort until 2006.

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