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Bureau adds 30 days for casino comments

Tue., April 17, 2012, 4:41 p.m.

Two requests by area officials to address concerns about a proposed tribal casino in Airway Heights prompted the Bureau of Indian Affairs to extend the comment period another 30 days.

The original deadline came Monday for comments about the Spokane Tribe’s planned STEP project and casino.

Requests by Spokane County Commissioner Al French and by officials with the Kalispel Tribe led the BIA to extend the deadline to May 16.

“We want to make sure we get everyone’s opinion and we decided to extend the period,” said BIA spokesman B.J. Howerton.

The Spokane Tribe is seeking approval from the Interior Department to build a casino on trust land. It argues the tribe needs to develop a casino and resort to add tribal jobs and boost the area’s economy.

Some opponents, including the Kalispels, say the Spokanes’ proposal should be rejected in part because of possible encroachment on Fairchild Air Force Base and because the Spokanes have two existing casinos.

Following the comment period, the BIA will analyze comments and submit a final environmental impact statement on the proposal. Another 30-day public comment period will follow. After that the Interior Department will issue a decision, although no timeline has been set.


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