The city of Airway Heights announced today that it has agreed to release Spokane County from a contract that prevented the county commissioners from taking a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Washington state governor's office on the Spokane Tribe's proposed West Plains casino.
Spokane County commissioners had asked to be released from the three-year-old contract. Two new commissioners have been elected to the county board since the agreement took effect.
Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing said in a press release, "The city of Airway Heights believes in open government, and we encourage Spokane County to voice its concerns about the project proposed by the Spokane Tribe so we, as a community, can gain a better understanding of their position."
A separate contract remains intact that establishes a formula specifying how payments from the Spokane Tribe would be distributed to both Airway Heights and Spokane County to cover public safety, sewer and water, and other public services.
The Spokane Tribe owns 145 acres of trust land at the northwest corner of U.S. 2 and Craig Road, just west of the city of Airways Heights. The Wellpinit, Wash.-based tribe first announced plans in early 2006 for a multiphase development there, called the Spokane Tribal Economic Project.
The tribe has said the development would cost $130 million to build and ultimately could employ 1,200 people.
A group led by West Plains businessman Irv Zakheim has vocally opposed the development, primarily with concerns about its proximity to Fairchild Air Force Base and potential adverse effects it could have on the base.
The BIA currently is reviewing the Spokane Tribe's proposal, which would require approval from Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee as well.
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