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E-M:/ EIS on Casino in Calhoun County

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

[Federal Register: July 13, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 133)]
[Page 42065-42066]
 >From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


Bureau of Indian Affairs

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for
the Proposed Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians' Proposed 79
Acre Fee-to-Trust Transfer and Casino Project in Emmett Township,
Calhoun County, MI

AGENCY: Bureau of Indian Affairs, Interior.
ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA) as lead agency, with the National Indian Gaming
Commission (NIGC) as cooperating agency, intends to gather the
information necessary for preparing an Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) for a proposed 79 acre fee-to-trust land transfer and casino
project in Calhoun County, Michigan. The purpose of the proposed action
is to help meet the economic development needs of the Tribe. This
notice also announces a public scoping meeting to identify potential
issues and alternatives for analysis in the EIS.

DATES: Written comments on the scope and implementation of this
proposal must arrive by August 12, 2004. The public scoping meeting
will be held July 28, 2004, starting at 7 p.m. We estimate that the EIS
will be ready for a Record of Decision by June 2005. This estimate
includes public comment periods of 30 days for this notice, 45 days for
the Draft EIS and 30 days for the Final EIS, plus time for scoping,
notice issuance, a public hearing, response to comments, document
revision and legal review.

ADDRESSES: You may mail or hand carry written comments to Mr. Terrance
L. Virden, Director, Midwest Region, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bishop
Henry Whipple Federal Building, One Federal Drive, Room 550, Ft.
Snelling, Minnesota 55111. The public scoping meeting, to be hosted by
the BIA, will be held at the McCamly Plaza Hotel, 50 Capitol Avenue,
SW., Battle Creek, Michigan 49017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Herb Nelson (612) 713-4400, ext. 1143.

[[Page 42066]]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The BIA proposes to take 79 acres of land
into trust on behalf of the Tribe, on which the Tribe proposes to build
a casino. The property is located along the south side of Interstate 94
(I-94) in Emmett Township, Calhoun County, Michigan, at the Eleven Mile
Road exit. The project design includes a 170,000 to 210,000 square foot
casino, support area, restaurants, gift shop and parking for 3400
patrons and employees and 20 busses, to be located on the 79-acre
parcel. Possible alternatives to the proposed action include no action,
alternative locations for the fee-to-trust transfer, and modifications
to the project design.
     This project was originally addressed in an Environmental
Assessment (EA) prepared under the direction of the BIA and the Tribe
by EDAW, Inc., with a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). As a
result of a legal challenge, based on the EA and FONSI, to the decision
by the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to take the land into trust
for the Tribe, the BIA has withdrawn the EA and FONSI and now intends
to prepare an EIS for the proposed project. The following provides a
brief background to this decision.
     On January 27, 2000, after the Tribe submitted its application to
have the land in question taken into trust, Calhoun County and Emmett
Charter Township sponsored a community public forum/hearing to receive
comments on the Tribe's application. The record of this meeting was
submitted as part of the comments on the Tribe's application and on the
EA. On July 18, 2001, the BIA issued a draft of the EA for public
review and comment. It received over a thousand pages of comments from
local governments, citizen organizations and individuals. The BIA
reviewed and responded to each of these comments accordingly. In
February 2002, the BIA completed the final EA, which included the
comments and responses to those comments as an appendix. The FONSI was
issued on July 31, 2002.
     On August 9, 2002, the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs
published his decision to accept the 79 acres into trust for the Tribe
in the Federal Register (67 FR 51867), to be effective thirty days
after this date of publication. The legal challenge to the decision led
to an April 23, 2004 order in CETAC v. Norton, Civ. Action No. 02-1754
(TPJ), remanding the EA to the Department of Interior for revision or
for the preparation of an EIS. The BIA subsequently concluded that the
potential environmental impact of the proposed action was significant
enough to warrant an EIS.
     Issues identified to date to be addressed in the EIS include the
      Traffic (how the traffic generated by the casino
development may effect the existing transportation system);
      Socio-economics (how the project may affect employment and
income, housing, schools, and infrastructure);
      Cumulative effects (environmental impacts which result
from the incremental impact of the project when added to other past,
present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions regardless of what
agency, Federal or other, or person undertakes such other actions);
      Indirect effects (environmental impacts of the project
which are caused by the action and are later in time or farther removed
in distance from the direct effects, but are still reasonably
foreseeable, including growth inducing effects and other effects
related to induced changes in the pattern of land use, population
density or growth rate, and related effects on air and water and other
natural systems, including ecosystems); and
      Impacts including geology, soils, hydrology, water
quality, and noise (analysis would include direct, indirect and
cumulative impacts).
     The issues listed above are based on the previous EA and comments
received on that EA. The issues and the alternatives to be addressed in
the EIS remain open to expansion based on comments submitted in
response to this notice and at the public scoping meeting.

Public Comment Availability

     Comments, including names and addresses of respondents, will be
available for public review at the mailing address shown in the
ADDRESSES section, during regular business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,
Monday through Friday, except holidays. Individual respondents may
request confidentiality. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or
address from public review or from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act, you must state this prominently at the beginning of
your written comment. Such requests will be honored to the extent
allowed by law. We will not, however, consider anonymous comments. All
submissions from organizations or businesses, and from individuals
identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations
or businesses, will be made available for public inspection in their


     This notice is published in accordance with section 1503.1 of the
Council on Environmental Quality Regulations (40 CFR parts 1500 through
1508) implementing the procedural requirements of the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.),
and the Department of the Interior Manual (516 DM 1-6), and is in the
exercise of authority delegated to the Principal Deputy Assistant
Secretary--Indian Affairs by 209 DM 8.

     Dated: July 1, 2004.
Aurene M. Martin,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs.
[FR Doc. 04-15821 Filed 7-12-04; 8:45 am]

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