The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) formally published  a Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on Friday, October 23, for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians’ Fee-to-Trust and Muskegon County Casino Project in Fruitport Township.

“This is an incredible step forward in our process to build the Muskegon County Casino Project,” said Larry Romanelli, Ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. “This project is about job creation for our community and I want to thank everyone – our steadfast community, our federal and state leaders, labor unions, and Tribal members for their support for this project.”

The BIA considered the Little River Band’s proposed casino project and other alternative economic development projects in the FEIS, but concluded that the Little River Band’s proposed casino project is the preferred alternative of the federal government. A public comment period will be opened in the near future, after which the federal government will issue its final decision on the application. The proposal will then move to the State of Michigan for concurrence of Governor Whitmer and legislative action.

The Muskegon County Casino Project anticipates bringing 3,000 jobs to the region, including 1,500 high paying full-time jobs, and 1,500 construction and ancillary jobs. The Little River Band is funding the project internally and it is expected to generate $15 million in tax revenue for the State of Michigan and millions for local governments.

The Little River Band has been working on the project for more than 10 years, and first filed with the BIA an application to place 60 acres of land in trust for a $180 million casino and economic development project in February 2015. The BIA published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement in November 2018, followed by a public hearing and comment period.

Muskegon County is home to the Tribe’s largest population base and is one of the Little River Band’s service areas where the Tribe has maintained government offices.

“The Tribe plans to develop a casino on our traditional land in Muskegon County so we can serve our largest population of tribal citizens in our service area,” said Tribal Council Speaker Ron Pete. “A casino in Muskegon County will enable the Tribe to provide jobs, housing, health care, education and other services to our elders and youth. It will also provide a very positive economic impact for the Muskegon community.”

The proposed project would include:

  • Approximately 69,000 square feet of gaming floor space
  • 1,700 slot machines
  • 35 table games
  • 220-room hotel
  • Event and meeting room space
  • Dining and entertainment options

As part of the Environmental Impact Statement, the BIA reviewed potential environmental impacts of the casino project, including land use, geology and soils, water resources, agricultural resources, biological resources, cultural resources, traffic, air quality, noise, public health/environmental hazards, hazardous material and waste, public services, and socio-economics. A public comment period will close 30 days from the date the EPA publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register.

For more information on the Muskegon County Casino Project, click here. The Notice of Availability can be found in the Federal Register here.


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