Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — The Chocolay Township Board asked for more time Wednesday to provide comments on the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community’s request for property it owns near the Ojibwa II Casino to be given trust status by the federal government, but approved measures related to improving the area’s water system, a necessary component of the tribe’s project to expand its casino property.
The nearly 64 acres of property is located to the west of Kawbawgam Road and south of M-28, adjacent to the casino and tribal residential neighborhoods.
Should the Bureau of Indian Affairs allow the property to be taken into trust, the measure would also need Gov. Rick Snyder’s consent.
The KBIC recently broke ground on a $35.5 million project at the property that includes expanding the casino gaming facilities, and building a new hotel, entertainment complex, three restaurants and a conference center.
KBIC CEO Larry Denomie III said the hotel and a restaurant are currently planned to be built on non-trust property, while the rest of the development would occupy lands already in trust status. Denomie said the project also requires relocating two wells to improve the water system and relocating three housing units.
The township board unanimously approved asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs for an extension on the comment period, which would give the board until mid January to provide comments.
Property in trust is tax exempt. Township documents show the KBIC paid slightly more than $2,500 on those parcels not in trust this year, with about $300 going directly to township coffers. It was unclear how much tax revenue the property would generate following completion of the expansion project.
Meanwhile, under a tribal-state gaming compact, the KBIC also allocates 2 percent of its gaming revenues to local communities.