As reported in this morning's paper, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers formally came out against a proposed West Plains casino as “encroachment” on Fairchild Air Force Base and the Spokane Tribe, which is planning the development, reiterated that it is no such thing.
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McMorris Rodgers' letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs is below.
The statement of Spokane Tribal Chairman Rudy Peone can be found inside the blog.
First, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and now the Madison Report conclude that the Spokane Tribe Economic Project (STEP) will have no negative impact on existing and future operations at Fairchild Air Force Base. The Spokane Tribe has worked closely with the Air Force and Bureau of Indian Affairs to ensure any and all mitigation measures recommended for the sake of Fairchild were accommodated in the FEIS. The Air Force has never expressed concern about STEP regarding so-called encroachment to the base and the Madison Report emphatically shows that STEP will not negatively impact base operations. At a time when we should all be pulling together to address the only real encroachment issue on the base - the mobile home park - it is unfortunate that some continue to attack STEP with arguments that cannot be squared with the fact-based conclusions set forth in the EIS and the Madison Report.
Second, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers writes: “by implementing the JLUS, the City of Spokane, County of Spokane and the City of Airway Heights seek to provide criteria which will ensure Fairchild’s mission continues into the future.” Our Project, which lies within the City of Airway Heights, fully complies with all CAWH post-JLUS FAFB overlay zone requirements. Support for the CAWH overlay zone cannot be reconciled with opposition to our Project.
Finally, the County Board of Commissioners recently amended the County Comprehensive Plan to allow for significant new development on the West Plains. The Washington State Department of Transportation has dedicated funding for an interchange at I-90 to accommodate this increased growth. While the Tribe is supportive of this additional growth on the West Plains, it seems contradictory to support such growth while simultaneously characterizing the Tribe's Project as an “encroachment.”