Artist's rendering of proposed off-reservation casino in Fruitport Township, Michigan. Image:Little River Band

Little River Band takes major step forward with casino bid

The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is finally seeing movement on its long-awaited off-reservation casino in Michigan.

The tribe began the land-into-trust process more than three years ago but the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) was only issued last week. The Bureau of Indian Affairs is holding a public meeting and is taking comments on the document as the project moves forward.

“This is a long awaited big step for the Little River Band and the Muskegon community to bring economic development to the region as the opportunity to comment on the DEIS is an important public part of the review process,” Larry Romanelli, who serves as the ogema, or leader, of the tribe, said in a press release.

The tribe is pursuing the casino under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. If the BIA approves, the state governor will have final say on the project.

The public meeting takes place December 12 at the at the Fruitport Middle School auditorium in Fruitport. Written comments are being accepted until January 7.

The tribe already operates the LIttle River Casino Resort in Manistee. The Fruitport site is about 96 miles to the south, just off a major interstate.

A racetrack used to be located at the site. The tribe is seeking to have 60 acres placed in trust for the new casino.

The project is the second off-reservation casino bid to see movement in recent weeks. In Wisconsin, the BIA is holding a public hearing and taking comments for the Ho-Chunk Nation after finally issuing the draft environmental impact statement earlier this month.

Read More on the Story
Proposed Muskegon-area casino about to tackle 'last big hurdles' (MLive November 23, 2018)
Bureau of Indian Affairs issues draft EIS (The Manistee News November 23, 2018)

Federal Register Notices
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Little River Band Trust Acquisition and Casino Project, Township of Fruitport, Muskegon County, Michigan (November 21, 2018)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Fruitport Casino Project, Fruitport Township, Muskegon County, Michigan (September 21, 2015)

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