By Jennifer Bonnett/News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Planners of an Indian gaming casino proposed just outside Galt city limits are continuing work on draft environmental report that will examine the affect of the project on land, transportation and more.
It is one of two projects city officials are keeping a eye on as they are located near the city’s sphere of influence.
The second is a soccer complex planned just south of Elk Grove, north of Galt’s current boundaries. The Elk Grove City Council voted last month to annex property for the complex. The plan includes 12 fields and a 9,000-seat, MLS-size stadium.
Two years ago next month, members of the Wilton Rancheria Miwok tribe gave their first public presentation to the Galt City Council regarding plans to build the gaming facility, possibly along with an adjoining hotel, new housing, a school and health center for its 700 tribe members.
It was proposed on a site near Arno Road and Highway 99, but has since been moved closer to Twin Cities Road, according to tribe attorney Rose Weckenmann.
Leaders have said it could take five to seven years to break ground.
The tribe has already asked the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to put the site into a land trust.
In December, when city officials last met with casino planners, they said they said they planned to release the Environmental Impact Statement in January. Previously, its release was set for October, according to City Manger Jason Behrmann.
“Still nothing,” he said.
Weckenmann said this week the tribe is hopeful that notice that the draft EIS is available will be published in the Federal Register sometime this summer. The timeline is set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, she added.
“The tribe is eager for the public hearing and the opportunity for public comments that will follow once the BIA makes the draft EIS available to the public,” Weckenmann said.
As soon as the document is released, the city will review, analyze and officially comment on the affects and start negotiating how those impacts can be mitigated, Behrmann said.
“Both the tribe and the city are preparing for and looking forward to more focused discussions and reaching agreement on impacts as soon the city and the tribe are in receipt of the draft EIS because that will allow both jurisdictions to understand more fully what we need to address in those discussions,” Weckenmann said.
The city is also working on a reimbursement agreement that will require the tribe and gaming partner Boyd Gaming to reimburse the city for all costs associated with its review of the project. The agreement may be ready to take to the city council in March, according to Behrmann.
After introducing the project to the city council, Weckenmann said tribe leaders received feedback that the tribe's selected site at Arno Road may not be ideal for future development. As a result, the tribe conferred with city officials regarding potential alternatives and then selected a 282-acre site north of Twin Cities Road, within Galt’s sphere of influence.
Because this site is within Galt's sphere of influence and was therefore already planned for development, Weckenmann said the tribe was able to pre-emptively address some potential impacts on the city that were raised, and the tribe has received resounding support for this decision.
As for the soccer complex, Behrmann said the city is not that concerned about the proposal.
“It is a relatively minor annexation immediately adjacent to the existing Elk Grove city limits and far away from Galt,” he said, adding that officials in Galt do not anticipate any affect on its services.
“I would imagine the Cosumnes Community Services District would be more concerned as they currently provide parks and recreation programs and facilities in Elk Grove.”
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.