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Tribe pays Windsor fire department to offset housing project impact

The tribe proposing a large tribal housing project in Windsor has agreed to pay the fire department more than $1 million over a decade to offset the impacts of its controversial development.

In a tangible sign that the 147 homes, cultural center and roundhouse are coming closer to reality, the Lytton Rancheria on Tuesday presented a $50,000 check to the fire department in the first of a series of payments over 10 years.

The tribe is paying the district to help offset the loss of property tax revenues once the 124 acres it owns are taken into federal trust and made Indian land.

"What satisfies the district is they are paying an equivalent amount as far as what anybody else would pay if they were a resident of the district," said Windsor Fire Chief Doug Williams.

The agreement follows a finding by the Bureau of Indians Affairs earlier this month that the project will have no significant environmental impact.

However, Sonoma County, Windsor and state officials have urged a more detailed environmental study. The project runs contrary to the county and town's general plans, and county officials say the number of housing units is more than nine times what would be allowed under existing zoning.

The tribe owns the San Pablo Casino in the East Bay on a 10-acre reservation it established there a dozen years ago. But is looking to the Windsor site for some of its 270 members to live and congregate.

The tribe has insisted it has no plans to build another casino in Windsor.

"The tribe is on record multiple times that it has no intent to build a casino. It has a very successful casino in San Pablo and is not looking to compete here," Kristin Byrne, community liaison for the tribe, said Tuesday.

The Windsor Fire Protection board in March approved the agreement with the Lytton Rancheria that calls for providing emergency response once the project is constructed on 124 acres the tribe bought on the west side of Windsor.

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