Three homeowners told a public hearing that they are concerned about traffic, noise pollution and light pollution from a casino proposed by the Samish Tribe on 11.41 acres of vacant property at Thompson and Stevenson roads south of March Point.
Their comments came during a public hearing Thursday evening on a just-released draft environmental impact assessment for the casino prepared for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the tribe. Only about two dozen people attended the hearing at the Fidalgo Bay RV Resort.
The tribe has asked the property be put in federal trust, taking it off Anacortes’ tax rolls. The tribe already has a 2003 agreement with the city to pay the city for city services such as fire protection and water service.
Homeowner Phil Cohen said he was certain a casino would directly impact traffic between highway 20 and Similk Bay. He said he is concerned about light pollution at night. “We already have refineries lighting the night sky.” He also asked what would happen to the casino if it fails to succeed, considering there is another nearby casino.
Another homeowners, Forrie McIntosh also was concerned about the night sky. “The night sky is precious to us now and new lights would affect our neighborhood.” Me mentioned the potential of increased noise and traffic as concerns, too. He said the highway 20-Thompson Road intersection will need to be upgraded.
Molly McIntosh asked, “What will happen to the values of our homes?” And, added, “I think it will really impact us.”
The EIS said the Samish Tribe is in need of a land base and revenue to improve the long-term economic vitality and self-governance of the Tribe and its members. “The creation of a stable, sustainable source of employment and revenue is needed to support a variety of fundamental Tribal governmental, administrative, operational, social, and educational programs to benefit Tribal members. Acquiring land in trust and issuing a reservation proclamation will facilitate the establishment of a Tribal land base and the creation of a reliable source of revenue for governmental programs.”
The EIS studied several alternatives, including a smaller casino and a retail center, including a 120,000 square food retailer. Another alternative studied was the possibility of building a casino on the property of Fidalgo Bay RV Park, also owned by the Samish tribe.
The EIS said that employment generated by a casino would be a positive, beneficial effect, but would not substantially increase employment in the local economy. This increase in employment could result in a small amount of migration into the local area with minor effects on housing availability, local schools, and other public services.
Putting the land in federal trust and removing the land from the jurisdiction of the City of Anacortes would replace the City’s land use, zoning, and planning priorities with those of the Tribe. Construction of the project may also induce minor growth in a small section of the SR-20 corridor.
The tribe also has plans for the a gas station and possibly a convenience store on the corner of highway 20 and Thompson Rd.
Deadline for written comments is Oct. 6. They may be sent to Bureau of Indian Affairs, Attention: Stanley Speaks, Regional Director, Northwest Regional Office, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 911 NE 11th Ave., Portland, OR 97232