FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP - The Little River Band has submitted an application to the
U.S. Department of Interior to take 40 to 60 acres into federal trust for the
purpose of building and Indian casino in Fruitport Township. Robert Memberto,
director of commerce for the Little River Band, has confirmed the application
has been submitted and is being processed.
The tribe purchased the former Great Lakes Downs last July and has since
acquired adjacent property. The total is 233 acres from which 40-60 acres is
planned for the casino and the rest will be used for hotels, restaurants, stores
and entertainment venues.
During 2009 there will be several critical steps taken in the federal approval
process. The first is an environmental impact study which is expected in May. It
will cover environmental and infrastructure issues and will be followed by a
6-month review period. Public hearings will be scheduled for local residents to
review and express their concerns.
At the same time the tribe will try to reach agreement with county officials on
a municipal services agreement. The agreement would define payments by the tribe
for public services, such as law enforcement, fire protection and public works.
The U.S. Interior Secretary will consult with the tribe and appropriate state
and local officials on the impact of the casino to determine if it will be in
the best interest of the tribe and the surrounding community.
If the Interior Secretary approves, the Michigan governor must concur with the
Secretary. The governor's decision would be expected sometime in 2010. A gaming
compact must be negotiated to define casino payments to the state, and the
compact must be ratified by the state senate.
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