Public meeting over Madera Co casino plans

MADERA COUNTY, Calif.

The proposed casino would be built on Avenue 17 near the highway in Madera County.

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is hoping to build the casino about 45 miles from its headquarters.

The North Fork Rancheria tribe says about 4 thousand jobs will be added to Madera County if the casino is built.

The land being considered sits on the northwest edge of Avenue 17 right off Highway 99 near the Madera Airport.

"We want gambling according to the tenants of proposition 1a, the law, and that's on-reservation gambling," Madera Co. Supervisor David Rogers said.

Rogers helped organize the anti-casino meeting Sunday evening. More than 70 people showed up to discuss potential problems.

Many are concerned over traffic, competition with local businesses and water levels.

Faleen Berry lives about a mile from the potential build site.

"We're all on wells, and I think that's a big concern. Also, the possibility of being annexed by the city. We live in the county because we don't want to live in the city," Berry said.

Representatives from North Fork Rancheria tribe also showed up at the meeting to refute the concerns based on potential benefits.

"The biggest benefit is the jobs, of course. We're looking at 750 construction jobs, 1,500 living-wage jobs, when we say that it's to support a family of four," Maryann McGovryn said.

The casino plan began nearly 8 years ago.

In September it received preliminary approval for the 200-room resort.

Just last December the tribe's offices in North Fork were raided by federal agents.

Action News has learned it was related to the proposed casino and its financial backer, Station Casinos.

Many are also worried that if the casino is approved to be built off-reservation, other tribes around the state would try to do the same, but the tribe says it has no official land.

Construction for the resort cannot begin until Governor Jerry Brown signs off on the plans.

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