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Year in Review: New roadblocks for Enterprise Rancheria casino project
Editor's note: As we get closer to the end of 2012, it's time to look back at what made news in the Appeal-Democrat over the past year. Over 10 consecutive days ending Monday, we are running stories — in chronological order — on each of our top 10 stories of 2012.
Disagree with our choices? You can go to the A-D website at www.appealdemocrat.com and vote for your own top 10 stories from among 20 choices or add your own. We will print the results on Jan. 3.
For Enterprise Rancheria, 2012 marked 10 years since the Indian casino was first proposed, and was also the year the project cleared some hurdles on its path to becoming a reality in Yuba County.
But the past year was also typical in another way for the casino and its proponents: new roadblocks emerging toward the year's end, with no clear sense of whether they'll be resolved soon.
The biggest development came in August, when Gov. Jerry Brown — with some noted reluctance — gave the go-ahead for a tribal compact for the casino, which would be on 40 acres near Sleep Train Amphitheatre off Highway 65.
"I expect there will be few requests from other tribes that will present the same kind of exceptional circumstances to su port a similar expansion of tribal gaming land," Brown said at the time.
Because of the expected economic benefits for Yuba County, supporters hailed the move as comparable to a major corporation announcing plans to set up shop locally.
But when the federal Department of the Interior announced plans to take the land formally into trust earlier this month, the lawsuits began.
Two nearby casinos in Colusa and Placer County, as well as a group of elected officials and gambling watchdog groups, all filed complaints suggesting the approval process was flawed in several ways, from a lack of environmental sensitivity to ignoring local concerns.
A complaint in state court against another casino proposed for Madera County claims such projects also need state environmental review, a situation that could also apply to Enterprise Rancheria.
Tribal representatives have said they don't expect the suits against their project to succeed, but said they have the potential to delay both breaking ground and providing any local benefits.
With those suits pending, and a compact also requiring approval by the Legislature in 2013, the proposed casino has another eventful year in the offing.