With little fanfare, Windsor Unified School District board members unanimously agreed Tuesday to accept a $1 million gift from the Indian tribe planning to build a large housing project on the outskirts of town.
Even though the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians’ housing is estimated to bring more than 100 students, the tribe is not required to pay the typical development fees and school impact fees of a new subdivision.
That’s because the site would be considered Indian land, or sovereign territory, once the Bureau of Indian Affairs gives final approval to put the 124 acres into federal trust on behalf of the tribe.
School trustee Katy Dillwood described the donation as “so graciously given as a good neighbor. We’re very appreciative of that gift.”
School Board President Sandra Dobbins called it “a good agreement” and “very much a collaboration.”
In exchange for the money, the school district agreed not to actively oppose or challenge the tribe’s plan to build its 147 homes, a community center and roundhouse west of town, off Windsor River Road.
“The tribe, once again, is trying to be a good community partner,” Larry Stidham, the attorney and spokesman for the Lytton Rancheria said prior to the meeting. “We want to help the schools, much like we did the fire district.”
The tribe began making payments to the Windsor Fire Protection District several years ago, which would total more than $1 million over a decade and even top $2 million if the tribe’s project gets sewer and water service from the town instead of having to develop its own wells and wastewater facility.
The Lytton Band has been awaiting approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to proceed with its housing project, much of it on densely wooded land that would require the clearing of 1,700 oak trees.
The 270-member tribe began buying up land a dozen years ago on the periphery of Windsor with proceeds from its lucrative San Pablo Casino in the East Bay.