ROHNERT PARK, CA - The U.S. Interior Department will take 254 acres of land
neighboring Rohnert Park into federal trust for the Federated Indians of the
Graton Rancheria allowing the tribe to pursue their plans for a $450 million
mega-casino. The planned 760,000-square-foot project includes a 300-room hotel.
The government’s decision was published in the Federal Register and becomes
final after a 30-day judicial review. This is a major step toward a Las
Vegas-style casino off Highway 101 in Sonoma County.
The next three steps towards final approval are:
An environmental review, which has been under way for four years, could
be completed in late summer.
Federal approval of its casino management arrangement with Station Casinos of
Negotiation of a gaming compact with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger.
However, Marilee Montgomery of the Stop the Casino 101 Coalition, said the group
planned court fights that could hold up the project for years,. They will
challenge to the federal government's right to take the land in trust, because
it did not follow the guidelines of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Instead,
the tribal land was authorized by the Graton Rancheria Restoration Act of 2000, which
was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The legislation says the
government "shall accept into trust for the benefit of the tribe any real
property located in Marin or Sonoma County." This makes an exception to the
requirement for ancestral ties to the land.
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