Archive for Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Indian tribe wants to keep options open on casino gaming, local delegation told

October 22, 2013


An Oklahoma-based Indian tribe wants to keep its options open for developing a casino somewhere in the Lawrence area, a delegation of local leaders was told by the tribe’s chief Tuesday.

In a meeting with a group of city and county commissioners and administrators, the Delaware Tribe of Indians did not present any specific plans for a casino on an approximately 90-acre piece of property that it has purchased near the Kansas Turnpike interchange in North Lawrence. But tribal leaders also said they hadn’t ruled out a casino development for the area.

“The telling thing for me was that they are not taking the casino option off the table,” said City Commissioner Jeremy Farmer, who attended the meeting in Bartlesville, Okla., where the tribe is currently based. “That doesn’t mean sound the alarm, but I think the public needs to know they said that.”

Local officials did leave with the impression that the tribe is very interested in moving its tribal headquarters to Lawrence. Mayor Mike Dever, who attended the meeting, said that could be a significant development for Lawrence. The tribal headquarters currently has 45 employees, but has had as many 200 at times. The tribe hopes a move to Kansas will allow the tribe to qualify for more federal funds.

“I think their first priority is to get established as a sovereign tribe in Kansas,” Dever said. “I think what they really want to do is create a tribal operation that is better than any other out there.”

But city and county commissioners requested Tuesday’s meeting, in part, because of speculation surrounding the tribe’s interest in a casino. The tribe at various times, including as late as 2011, has expressed interest in having a casino in northeast Kansas on property that used to be their tribal home prior to being relocated after the Civil War.

Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, who was the other elected official who attended the meeting, said she wants to have more conversations with the tribe about issues surrounding not only possible casino development on the property but also any type of development on the land. The property is prime agricultural land that has been used as a sod farm, and there is concern that development on the property will create significant stormwater flooding issues for adjacent North Lawrence properties.

“It was a pleasant and congenial meeting, but I think we left there realizing there is still quite a bit we need to talk about,” Thellman said.

City Manager David Corliss, who attended the meeting along with County Administrator Craig Weinaug, said the groups tentatively agreed to meet in the coming weeks to talk more specifically about the development issues that are associated with the property.

The tribe is working to have the recently purchased property put into federal trust, which would allow the land to be developed without following the county’s zoning and development codes. But some development items may be items of negotiation because any tribal development may seek certain city or county services such as police, fire and utility services.

In other news, city commissioners at their weekly meeting Tuesday:

• Unanimously approved a rezoning request that will allow for bistro/bar to develop at 804 Pennsylvania St., which is next to the Poehler Lofts in East Lawrence. The new establishment will be given two years to meet a special city requirement that it derive at least 55 percent of its gross sales from food and nonalcoholic beverage sales.

• Unanimously agreed to close the northbound lane of New Hampshire Street from Ninth Street to the mid-block crossing in front of the Lawrence Arts Center until March 1. The closing will accommodate a crane that will be used in the construction of a multistory hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

• Added three properties to the Lawrence Register of Historic Places: The Turnhalle building at 900 Rhode Island St.; The Kibbee House at 1500 Haskell Ave.; and the Joseph Savage House at 1734 Kent Terrace.


Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 7 months ago

ugh this is all so stupid...i think the biggest thing left to talk about is what drama queens city of lawrence & county of douglas commissioners are. took 22 years for one tribe to get trust status. so why doesn't the public need to know about how long that process takes?? and why didn't the tax-paid commissioners bother to do any homework before rushing down to bartlesville on tax payers money?? and um, duh, until the trust status is granted, any/all development is subject to all the same protocols as any other land owners face. lame, lawrence, lame.

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 7 months ago

It is based off of the sales tax reported by the business. The requirement is an annual one. In other words, one month where food sales drop below 55 percent doesn't put a business in violation. As for whether every applicable business is checked every year, I'm not sure. I'll ask. Thanks, Chad

Chad Lawhorn 4 years, 7 months ago

I checked with the city and here is how it works: Every two years drinking establishments must renew their liquor licenses with the state and the city. At that time, the city requires the drinking establishment to submit copies of all the sales tax reports they have filed with the state for the two year period. Those sales tax reports allow the city to calculate the amount of food vs alcohol sales made at an establishment. Hope that helps.

Kent Noble 4 years, 7 months ago

Imagine that the Indian Tiribe wants to keep options open for a casino. Why do you think they bought the land in the first place and what a great loaction right off the highway. Money money money money money!! Awe couldn't be about the money.

John Graham 4 years, 7 months ago

Mr Lee,

Please provide specifics about Indian casinos that are a "shambles". I have been in Indian casinos in several states from west coast to east coast and not once did I come close to thinking any place was a shambles. The only casino "shambles" I have been in were a few in Reno and downtown Vegas, none of which were owned by Indians. Casinos north of Topeka are owned by Indians and none of them I would classify as a "shambles". The area in question outside Lawrence does not have any housing subdivisions currently. How will it bring down property values? If you are going to make ugly generalizations about Indians ability to manage their casinos provide evidence to back up your statements.

Wayne James 4 years, 7 months ago

Why n heavens name is nearly individual afraid of having a casino in their town/neighborhood? Look the town of Mulvane south of Wichita. The powers that be do not want one in Sedgwick County/Wichita. Whether it's the religious "right" or just that the land that they own is outside the corporate limits of that cow-town, I haven't figured out. Perhaps its that both are involved.
The "bible thumpers" apparently feel that it is sinful to enter a casino and gamble away the household's savings and/or to gamble period. Well, these folks are travelling to Mulvane, North of Topeka and/or to Oklahoma to gamble, drink alcoholic beverages & spend their "hard earned" dollars and have a good time doing it.
Who loses? If one is afraid of neighborhood blight. forget it! The lawful businesses draw in more money for the city & the State than any other business in town could hope to pay into these coffers. Again check out the neighborhood around these casinos & I'm sure one will find NO BLIGHT. These buildings are maintained immaculately due to the amount of revenue they bring. Can any other business say that they own their own facilities and maintain them as do the Indian tribes? AS I said before, check out the casino in Mulvane and the monies they have generated for the city, the county AND the state. I personally don't care one way or the other, but let the Indians do as they wish with their land. Does any one tell the average homeowner that he can't paint his house with stripes or a bright pink if that is what he chooses? No. But most in their neighborhood would consider this a blight. To the citizens of Lawrence/Douglas County, stop whining about the Indians. Weren't they here before you or I? If they want a casino, let them. It would bring in more money in a year than the city/county could gain in two years in their current status. Most casino's also build hotels on their land too. Does anyone think the new hotel in "downtown" Lawrence is going to be a blight? During it's lifetime the hotel will change hands many times. The casino & any adjacent hotel will be forever n the hands of the tribe and WILL generate more business in six months than the new hotel downtown will bring n in two years. They are banking solely on revenue generated by KU. The local won't stay there. Why should they? KC, Lawrence, Ottawa (and surrounding communities) and Topeka residents will come over for a night's entertainment and stay in the adjacent hotel and hopefully off the road. Perhaps the local bar owners are afraid the will lose business. I'll tell everyone the same thing I told the "manager" of the Shakey's Pizza when they first opened on West 23'rd "You will get your share of the business and no more" They had the idea that they were going take all the Pizza business in Lawrence. Guess what. This company is no longer in least not in Lawrence.

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