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Tribe agrees to one casino in Marin and Sonoma

CA, No. CA, San Francisco
July 28 2008

SANTA ROSA, CA - The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria have agreed not to pursue a second casino in Sonoma or Marin counties. The board of supervisors in both counties voted this week to approve the agreement which includes the following terms:

• The tribe will proceed with its efforts to build a casino and hotel outside Rohnert Park on land placed into federal trust last May.

• Sonoma County keeps its right to challenge other steps in the tribe’s path to develop the casino, including the environmental approval by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

• Future commercial developments on tribal land must comply with zoning codes and the county's general plan land use.

• Future commercial development projects will undergo an environmental review. The proposed casino hotel is excluded.

Last May the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) bypassed a public review of the environmental impact study and accepted the tribe’s 254 acres near Rohnert Park into federal trust. The BIA said their decision was mandatory because the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act of 2000 states that the Secretary of the Interior "shall accept into trust any real property in Sonoma or Marin counties upon application of the tribe”.

"If followed in future cases, the Bureau's interpretation would allow the Tribe to purchase, take into trust and develop an unlimited number of Sonoma County parcels without any public or environmental review," said the Sonoma County Administrator's and Counsel's offices.

Therefore, in May the counties decided to negotiate an agreement with the tribe rather than fight the issue in federal court.

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