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Airway Heights formally approves annexation of Spokane Tribe’s STEP land

News from our SR West Plains bureau: the City of Airway Heights announced on Friday it's formally annexed the 145 acres the Spokane Tribe hopes to use to develop its  Spokane Tribe of Indians Economic Project (STEP).

Which would be a casino and eventual resort, if the Department of Interior approves the request to use trust land for a gaming business.
 
Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing said the annexation, which received unanimous support from the Airway Heights City Council, marks a major milestone in the city’s vision for future growth and economic sustainability.
 
He said: “The Spokane Tribe’s STEP Project is a smart development that is compatible with land-use regulations in Airway Heights and does not encroach on Fairchild Air Force Base.”

Critics have seen otherwise. Many have said the proposal would potentially create encroachment that would cause the Air Force to alter flight paths, and possibly even reduce the Fairchild Air Force Base mission.
 
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is continuing to review the proposal.

BIA will release Spokane Tribe’s casino impact statement on Friday

The Spokane Tribe is holding a press conference Friday at its SpoKo store in Airway Heights on Friday to talk about the release of the environmental impact statement for its proposed casino in Airway Heights.

Releasing the EIS is the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. Copies of the statement, which offers detailed statements on what the tribe said will be the impacts of a casino, will be available at the Spokane Public Library and on the Federal Register (federalregister.gov).

An overview of the project can be found at this link.

What needs to happen next:  the Tribe needs formal approval of its casino proposal from the Department of the Interior. It's seeking the unusual option of starting a casino on non-reservation land, an issue that tribal opponents have said will create a precedent leading to many more tribal casinos across the country.

The tribe would also need to negotiate a compact with the state of Washington before it can proceed.