Controversial tribal housing in Windsor moves ahead

  • 6/20/2011: A1:
    PC: Bill McCormick is the last property owner that hasn't sold his property to the Lytton Rancheria. The field behind his property is slated for development of homes and a cultural center.

Plans for a large tribal housing project in Windsor have cleared a significant hurdle after the Bureau of Indian Affairs determined it will have no significant environmental impact.

The bureau issued its findings late last week over the objections of Sonoma County, Windsor and state officials, who urged a more complete environmental study on the Lytton Rancheria proposal.

The tribe is planning as many as 147 homes, a cultural center, a roundhouse and retreat on 124 acres on the western edge of Windsor, much of it on densely wooded land that would require the clearing of 1,700 oak trees.

"This project remains incompatible with the county and the Town of Windsor's general plan," said North County Supervisor Mike McGuire. The number of housing units is more than nine times what would be allowed under existing zoning, he said.

"It's a dense, suburban-style development as proposed," he said. "It would never be allowed in the unincorporated area of the County of Sonoma."

Windsor Mayor Debora Fudge said she had not read the decision yet, but was surprised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs' determination that no extensive environmental analysis is needed.

"I think there are impacts with water, traffic, lack of a sewer system ... for this number of homes in this area," said Fudge, a retired environmental planner.

For more than a decade, the Lytton Rancheria has been steadily acquiring property on the western boundary of Windsor, along Windsor River Road to Eastside Road.

The 270-member tribe, which operates a casino in the East Bay community of San Pablo, always has insisted it has no plans to build a second casino in Windsor.

Instead, the tribe stated previously<NO1><NO>, it wants to provide a place for members to congregate "for governmental, cultural and social purposes." The site would be close to the tribe's original base near Healdsburg before its rancheria was dissolved by the federal government in 1958.

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