BIA Enters Elk Grove Parcel into Federal Trust For Wilton Rancheria Casino; Possible Recall Effort Being Mounted?

January 20, 2017 |     

In the waning hours of the Obama administration, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has decided to place a parcel of property at Elk Grove's unfinished Outlet Collection into federal trust on behalf the Wilton Rancheria, it was announced today.

The announcement came from Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond "Chuckie" Hitchcock this afternoon. By placing the land into trust, the tribe has overcome one of the major hurdles needed to develop a $400 million casino resort on 35.9-acres it will purchase from the Howard Hughes Company, the current developer of the unfinished shopping center near Grant Line Road and Highway 99 in southern Elk Grove.

To facilitate the placement of the acreage in federal trust, in October the Elk Grove City Council voted to release HHC from a development agreement. The BIA requires any land that is placed in trust to be free of any encumbrances, include that development agreement.  

“This marks a major milestone in our plans to build a resort and casino that will create vital, lasting benefits for the city, the region and our Tribe," Hitchcock said in the statement.

The casino has been a source of controversy since major details were revealed to Elk Grove residents last spring.  Although each side of the issue has vocal supporters, a petition referendum seeking to reverse the vote to releasing HHC from the development agreement was circulated in Elk Grove by card room operator, Emeryville, Calif.-based Knight Ventures LLC. 

Former Elk Grove Gary Davis called the development "a great day for Elk Grove." Davis, who as Mayor last summer said he supported the Tribe but demurred on whether he supported the casino, now is expressing strong support for the development.

“The resort and casino will help the city prosper and provide a strong catalyst for the Outlet Collection mall, Davis said in the statement. "Together, they will bring lasting economic growth and benefits for our citizens and for the region as a whole.”

Cheryl Schmitt, of the gaming watchdog group, Stand Up For California did not immediately reply to an email request seeking comment. 

Interestingly, the Elk Grove City Council has placed the referendum on next Wednesday's agenda. Specifically, they were to discuss how the matter was to be handled following its certification earlier this month.     

Given that the parcel has now been placed in federal trust on behalf of the tribe, there is a possibility the referendum has become a moot point, and no action might be required.

In a possible related development, Elk Grove News has learned with verification from the Elk Grove City Clerk's office, that earlier this week an Elk Grove resident inquired on the recall procedure. Among the numerous requirements, to recall an Elk Grove City Council Member, the official must have completed at least 90 days of their current term.

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