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Federal Judge Rule In Favor Of Wilton Rancheria Tribe

Wilton Rancheria tribe is now closer to establishing a new casino and resort in Elk Grove after a significant victory in a federal court. A federal judge in the District of Columbia threw out a motion brought by a group of gambling opponents in California to stop the construction of casino and resort in the 36 acres land near Kammerer Road and Highway 99.

After Judge Trevor N. McFadden issued a 33-page document on 7thOctomber, Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock said in a statement that they’re satisfied by decision. The judge rejected dishonest arguments brought up by well-funded special interest groups. He added that they would continue with the plans to build the resort and casino.

Previously, Hitchcock had indicated that Wilton Rancheria had pledged to invest $186 million for more than 20 years with ELK Grove and Sacramento County. The funds will be allotted for schools, police, and roads, among other services.

In January, Hitchcock said that he expected the project to kick off this year. He added that the plans for casino development were already in place, but the time when the construction would begin is yet to be availed.

Stand Up for California, the group advocating for blocking the construction of casino sued Wilton Rancheria and U.S. Department of Interior to block the project. The group cited the probable impact on traffic along Highway 99, among other reasons for blocking the construction of the casino.

McFadden could not find a reason for the Department to invalidate land acquisition for Wilton. He ruled in favor of Rancheria in consideration to the following essential points;

  • Elk Grove land was within the area historically occupied by Rancheria ancestors
  • The land is near historical tribal sites
  • The property is less than six miles from the historic Wilton Rancheria

The D.C. judge wrote that those points showed that Wilton was historically connected to Elk Grove sites.

McFadden dismissed Stand Up argument that Wilton and federal officials acted in bad faith by ignoring environmental reviews and keeping Elk Grove residents in the dark. He dismissed the claim citing records which indicted a different story.

McFadden insisted that the public knew that Elk Grove was under consideration right from 2014. He concluded by writing, “No evidence of a legal or procedural flaw in interior’s decision making in ruling for the Rancheria.”

Source: https://lcb.org/news/elk-grove-casino-close-to-realization-anti-gambling-group-stand-up-for-california-opposes

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