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Leaders of Pomo tribe meet with local officials to discuss future of 277-acre site of possible casino project

Meeting face to face for the first time since Petalumans voted their displeasure at the thought of a casino south of town, elected officials and leaders of the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians sat down at City Hall in February to talk about what might be built at the tribe?s 277-acre south county property.

Petaluma Mayor Pamela Torliatt, who attended the meeting with Supervisor Mike Kerns, City Manager Mike Bierman and other city and county staff, described the discussion as a ?meet and greet? initiated by the tribe to begin talking about the future use of the land.

?They just wanted to meet us ? their neighbors ? and see what the potential opportunities are,? said Torliatt, who announced that she had attended the meeting during the Feb. 26 City Council session.

The tribe has no development plans at this point, a spokesman said, and Kerns and Torliatt said new tribal chairman Harvey Hopkins repeated the tribe?s assertion that it does not plan to construct a casino on the site.

?It was kind of a cordial, get-acquainted opportunity to meet government-to-government,? tribal spokesman Dave Hyams said. ?This was a very preliminary discussion.?

Kerns said county staff described the current state of the land ? stretching between Highway 101 and the Petaluma River east of Kastania Road ? and what uses would be allowed under the two zoning designations for the site.

Most of the land is zoned for agriculture, but about 25 acres in the central portion of the site is slated for ?limited commercial? use, Kerns said.

Under county regulations, permitted uses for ?limited commercial? include offices, restaurants, gas stations, car dealerships and a variety of other businesses.

Though the tribe ? which currently operates River Rock Casino in Geyserville ? doesn?t have a specific development in mind, Hopkins said that the Pomos wanted whatever they might build there to have community support.

?One of the things they?re looking for is housing for the tribe, as well as trying to increase their revenues,? Torliatt said.

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