County sues to stop casino

Butte County officials are still fighting “tooth and toenail,” as the late Supervisor Bob Lemke used to say, to stop an Indian casino proposed for the intersection of Highways 99 and 149, but they’ve changed their tone noticeably.

Supervisors announced last week that they had voted unanimously to file suit in federal district court in Washington, D.C., to overturn the National Indian Gaming Commission’s recent approval of the Mechoopda Tribe of Chico’s casino proposal.

But they also made it clear that they no longer were challenging the tribe’s legitimacy, as they did in August 2006. Indeed, they stated in a press release that the county “values and respects” the tribe’s history and role in the community and “does not question [its] recognition or sovereignty.”

The basis of the suit is that the proposed site “does not meet the narrow definition of ‘restored lands.’” As Chief Administrative Officer Brian Haddix explained, the site “is simply an unacceptable location for such an intensive land use.” The county has long maintained the site is environmentally sensitive, too far from urban services and would create traffic problems on newly redesigned (at a cost of $130 million) Highway 149.