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Tribe seeks casino permit

— The Colville Confederated Tribes’ business arm wants to amend its permit for the proposed Omak casino project.

The Colville Tribal Federal Corp. is seeking an amendment to an existing permit for the Omak Hotel Resort project.

Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley said it isn’t so much a change of plans as seeking formal approval for existing plans.

“Nothing’s changing,” he said.

The project would include a casino-hotel-resort, RV park, amphitheater and other, future amenities.

The development will be on 295.91 acres along U.S. Highway 97 south of the Rodeo Trail Road overpass. The tribe owns the property, which has been converted to trust status.

A tribal Land Use Review Board hearing on the proposed amendment will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, in the Colville Tribal Credit conference room, 14 Moses St., on the agency campus near Nespelem.

Written comments will be accepted until 4 p.m. Sept. 4, and verbal comments can be made during the hearing.

Omak City Administrator Ralph Malone said he wasn’t aware the proposal includes an amphitheater, which could provide competition as a venue for the city-owned Stampede Arena.

“Very interesting,” he said, adding he was aware the tribe had planned an events center.

He doesn’t anticipate the city taking a stand either for or against the permit amendment.

The tribe has approached the city to supply utilities to the development, and the city will supply them because of an existing agreement with the tribe, Malone said. The tribe would be responsible for building the lines.

Two of the city’s wells are within the reservation, including one on mill property, the tribe contributes “considerably” to the city’s water supply, he said.

The tribe has selected Taylor Woodstone of Bloomington, Minn., to build the complex. No construction cost estimate has been announced.

Plans call for shutting down bingo operations at some point at the Okanogan Bingo Casino, 41 Appleway, but to keep casino games going there until the new facility opens, Colville Tribal Federal Corp. Executive Director Joe Pakootas said.

In late 2009, the tribe purchased land along U.S. Highway 97 south of the Rodeo Trail Road overpass and north of the state Department of Transportation maintenance shop. The tribe spent more than $2 million to purchase land and consolidate more than 1,000 acres of land.

The proposed casino site is part of those consolidated tracts.

Tribal officials announced plans for an Omak casino several years ago and broke ground for a $24 million, 58,000-square-foot facility in July 2009. Plans were scuttled a week later when human remains were found on the site.

The site, south of the Omak Community Center and across U.S. Highway 97 from the Tribal Trails gas station, was abandoned.

At the time, the tribe planned 400-500 gaming machines, two restaurant, a lounge area, gift shop, players’ club, poker room and game tables with 250 employees.

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