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County?s deal on River Rock Casino calls for minimum 8-year suspension of Pomo tribe?s application for gaming on 277-acre property south of town

The Indian tribe that owns River Rock Casino in Geyserville and a 277-acre property south of Petaluma says it will drop its application for gaming rights on the local site in exchange for water and sewer service there.

Without water and sewer hook-ups to the property, the tribe will only delay its application for eight years, under the terms of a wide-ranging agreement reached with the county this week.

If such services are provided, ?the tribe would not seek to take (the property) into trust for gaming at all,? said David Hyams, a spokesman for the Dry Creek Rancheria.

The tribe has repeatedly said it is not pursuing any development of the property opposite Kastania Road south of Petaluma. In 2006, it filed an application with the federal government for the land to be taken into trust, a step that could lead to a casino, though the tribe claims it doesn?t intend to build a gaming hall.

This week?s agreement, passed by county supervisors Tuesday, primarily concerns alcohol regulations, traffic impacts and payments from the tribe?s existing casino.

On the Petaluma property ?now used for agriculture ? the tribe would suspend its trust application for eight years and dedicate 90 of the 277 acres as protected open space along the southern and eastern portions of the site.

The open space would serve as an agriculture and wetlands ?mitigation bank? for property the tribe is developing near River Rock Casino.

About 25 of the remaining 187 acres are zoned for commercial uses, such as offices, restaurants, gas stations or similar projects.

Supervisor Mike Kerns, who represents the south county, said the tribe stated during negotiations that it has no current proposal for the commercial portion of the site, but sought water and sewer service for some future development there.

?They have indicated that they plan to do something else with that site,? Kerns said.


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