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.
The agreement, which went into effect May 22, was announced late Friday.
With little fanfare, the tribe also has made $200,000 in payments to the fire district over the past several years to increase staffing.
Under the terms of the contract, which is contingent on the tribe's land being accepted into trust by the federal government, the tribe will make 10 annual payments totaling $500,000 for equipment purchases.
It will make add another $425,000 over the same period into the district's general fund.
The tribe also agreed to pay a fee of $750 the fire district for each single family home constructed.
While the package total more than $1 million, the amount could potentially be boosted to about $1.8 million if the Town of Windsor agrees to extend water and sewer service.
The tribe said under that scenario it would pay as much as $800,000 over 10 years to pay for an extra full time fire fighter.
But Windsor officials have expressed an unwillingness to extend utilities to a project that is outside town limits and say it would require voter approval to allow it.
The other option is for the tribe to develop its own wells and wastewater treatment system.