Hundreds gather to discuss potential casino project

City questions use of other 206 acres at Galt site

Source: The Galt Hearld, By Bryan M. Gold - Staff Writer

Galt City Attorney Steve Rudolph on Jan. 29 questioned why the Wilton Rancheria wants to take 282 acres of farmland north of Galt into trust when the tribe’s proposed casino complex would only require 76 acres.

Rudolph told about 200 people at a public meeting at the Chabolla Center that the city can’t provide comment on potential environmental impacts on the other 206 acres if Galt officials don’t know how that land will be developed.

“Leaving much of the land area intact would reduce potential impacts to the city,” he said.

A draft environmental impact statement (EIS), created by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, indicates the tribe prefers a 282-acre parcel just north of Twin Cities Road between Highway 99 and the railroad tracks as the site for a casino complex.

Tribal officials asked the federal agency to take the parcel that is almost entirely in Galt’s sphere of influence into trust. That would then remove the property from the Sacramento County rolls.

This casino project could include 110,260 square feet of gaming floor area, a 12-story hotel with 302 guest rooms, a 360-seat buffet, a 60-seat pool grill, other food and beverage providers, a 2,600-square-foot retail area, a fitness center, spa, and a 48,000-square-foot convention center.

“It’s reasonably foreseeable that the balance would be developed for commercial, business and professional uses, and possibly some residential,” said Rudolph, who is also Galt’s interim city manager.

The EIS said an alternative for the property is a 686,000-square-foot project that would include a home improvement store, a membership store, restaurants and a gas station. That project would not include a casino or a hotel.

While city officials asked the federal agency for an additional 30 days past the Feb. 29 deadline to comment on potential environmental impacts, most of the speakers, including several Galt District Chamber of Commerce members, said they supported the project.

“The benefits are magnificent, and the negatives are manageable,” said chamber member Matt Pratton.

Chamber Chair-elect Ann Ullrich said the organization supports the Wilton Rancheria in its endeavors.

“This project will support the infrastructure that will help our local businesses,” she said.

Longtime Galt resident Al Baldwin said he supported the casino project, provided it would be located at one of the two proposed alternate sites in Wilton or Elk Grove.

“Galt is a bedroom community. We’ve been growing slowly,” he said. “People move here because they don’t want all of the hustle and bustle.”

Baldwin and other speakers said Galt doesn’t have enough highways for the expected increase in traffic.

“All of a sudden, this thing is going to take off like a rocket,” he said. “I’m for it for the Miwoks. I think they’re deserving, but not in my backyard.”

Janene Lawrence, who was born and raised in Elk Grove before moving to Galt 14 years ago, said she is not in favor of the casino.

“Why would the federal government take land from the community for this purpose?” she asked. “(Southern Sacramento County) is known for its farmland, cow pastures, vineyards and wildlife refuge. Putting a casino on land that could be used in other ways to generate money for the city (of Galt) is stupid.”

A similar casino resort could be built at the historic Wilton Rancheria site on approximately 75 acres between Dillard Road and the Cosumnes River in Wilton.

That site could also hold the retail project if the federal agency decides against a casino.

The other alternative site is 28 acres on the partially built Elk Grove Promenade, currently planned to become an outlet mall in the southern part of that city.

The tribe’s casino project plan calls for the full buildout to cover 76 acres, but the property at the mall site is large enough for a casino, a 12-story hotel with 307 rooms, and a 48,150-square-foot convention center.

Tribal Chair Raymond Hitchcock said at the meeting that any of the proposed sites are “viable” options.

He added that the tribe would provide annual contributions to jurisdictions with significant environmental impacts on this project, including police and fire services, road maintenance and social services.

“We’re committed to being a good partner with all of our neighbors and jurisdictions alike,” he said.
Posted: Feb 3, 2016,
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Author: Editor