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Petaluma staying out of legal fight against Rohnert Park casino

  • The Graton Resort & Casino raised their signature flower logo on the exterior of the building on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Petaluma won't join in the legal fight against the Graton casino set to open in two weeks.

After a closed-session discussion Monday night before the regular City Council meeting, council members voted to remain on the sidelines of the legal appeal being led by a group of mostly Rohnert Park residents fighting against the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park.

The casino is set to open Nov. 5 and will be the largest gambling hall in the Bay Area.

The Stop the Casino 101 Coalition is appealing a Sonoma County judge's August ruling against its effort to invalidate Graton's compact with the state that allowed the Las Vegas-style casino on 254 acres it purchased on Wilfred Avenue.

The group has also sought to add Petaluma's legal weight to its fight. The group is concerned about 277 acres of land east of Highway 101 near Kastania Road owned by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.

The tribe, which owns River Rock Casino in Geyserville, is seeking to have the land taken into federal trust, a prerequisite to operating a casino.

Although the Dry Creek chairman has said a casino is not in their present development plans, local leaders are skeptical. Casino opponents believe if the Graton casino is stopped, so will any Petaluma plans.

"I think it's a little short-sighted. But it certainly doesn't come as a surprise," said Marilee Montgomery, one of the anti-casino leaders, of Petaluma's decision. "It's unfortunate that Petaluma doesn't see far enough in the future to not understand you can't run around putting out all these fires."

She said she didn't know what went into the council's decision.

City Attorney Eric Danly didn't immediately return a call seeking information. He didn't announce specifics of the vote.


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