Lytton housing plan stirs unease
Published: Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 8:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 at 8:06 p.m.
An Indian tribe's plans to build homes and
a community center for its members on the edge of
“It's eight times the density, in the wrong location, without urban services,” Windsor Councilwoman Debora Fudge said Friday. “I am even more in opposition to this development than I was before.”
But tribal spokesman Doug Elmets
said the ongoing environmental analysis will address the water, wastewater,
traffic and other issues that have been raised.
“This is an outstanding project. The reality is, it will be one of the
most beautiful master-planned communities in
Officials and neighbors of the 92 acres also are uneasy that the Lytton Band of Pomo has been unwilling to rule out the possibility of building a casino there, even though the tribe insists it has no such plans. “Why are they not willing to put it in writing and why do they need that much acreage?” Fudge asked. “I don't know why they continue to buy up parcels all the way to the river, unless there are other plans.” She said previously that tribal representatives told her they would not rule out a casino because they did not want to tie the hands of a future tribal council.
But Elmets said it's not a viable
location for a casino. As a practical matter, he said, it would be nearly
impossible to get federal approval for gaming once the land is taken into trust
for a reservation. “I will reiterate, for
the record, that the tribe is not going to build a casino in
The 270-member Lytton Band has been landless since 1961,
when the federal government dissolved its 50-acre
Revenue from the casino has enabled the tribe to steadily
add to its landholdings in
Even without a casino in the picture in
A 718-page environmental assessment was released last month detailing the Lytton Pomos' preferred plan to build 147 residential units consisting of 95 single-family homes, 24 “cottages” and 28 high-density units. There also would be a 19,000-square-foot community center that would include a banquet hall, administrative offices and a wellness center or small medical clinic.
The tribe also is proposing a 2,500-square-foot roundhouse for spiritual and ceremonial use and a similarly sized retreat structure. As an alternative, the tribe is proposing 55 residences if the environmental studies do not support their preferred plan. The consultants' study is meant to serve as the basis for the tribe's application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take the land into trust and allow the project to become a reality. How much influence the county and town can exert in stopping or shaping the size of the project is unclear.
“In the end it's a BIA decision and it's hard to know what the BIA will decide,” said Kelley.
When it comes to putting land into trust for a reservation, “it can take years,” said Pat O'Mallan, the BIA project supervisor.
“It depends on whatever opposition they get. And if they drag congressional representatives in, it becomes more of a political battle,” he said of trust applications in general. Elmets expects it will take at least two years before construction could begin. There are a half-dozen single-family homes on the seven parcels that make up the tribe's property. The majority of the 92 acres is undeveloped and heavily wooded with more than 4,000 trees, mostly oaks.
Fudge said she also is bothered that more than 1,000 trees
would be cut down to make way for the tribe's plans. Neighbors say they also
are concerned that the development could add 1,000 car trips daily to
“There are serious flaws in the environmental assessment. It's so rosy-colored,” said Bill McCormick, a neighbor of the tribe's property. For one, he said, it does not take into account the decline in value of surrounding properties that would occur if the project goes ahead in the largely rural neighborhood. He also questioned assumptions made in the study regarding traffic, wastewater and other issues.
The tribe would like to get water and wastewater services
The questions and concerns over the issues in the environmental document led to the Bureau of Indian Affairs extending the public comment period from the end of this month to Sept. 15.