Bay Mills Indian Community to present new casino plans

FLINT TWP. — Perhaps the Bay Mills Indian Community will build a casino on their 28-acre property at Dutcher and Lennon Roads after all..

Bay Mills representatives are scheduled to make a presentation to the township Board of Trustees at its Oct. 3 meeting about what it proposes to do with the undeveloped land, said Karyn Miller, township supervisor at this week’s board meeting.

After the meeting, Miller said she did not have any further information about the content of Bay Mills’ presentation. She said as far as she knows Bay Mills has not resolved legal issues that have thwarted development of its property in the township and elsewhere.

A casino Bay Mills owns in Vanderbilt was ordered closed in March by a federal judge pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and the State of Michigan challenging the legality of the land purchase which bypassed normal channels.

Bay Mills has a tribal compact with the State of Michigan allowing it to operate Class III gaming facilities on Indian land. Its interpretation of that agreement is any property purchased with Indian funding becomes Indian land. Therefore the Vanderbilt casino was established legally according to laws governing Indian-owned property.

The state disagrees and its assertions so far have been upheld in court.

Bay Mills opened the Vanderbilt casino in November fueling speculation about similar plans for properties its owns in Port Huron and Flint Township. Development for the latter were assumed to be tied to the outcome of the Vanderbilt legal challenge.

But the tribe lost a second federal court appeal at the end of June seeking to overturn the judge’s decision and reopen the Vanderbilt casino, according to a June 30 report by the Port Huron Times Herald.

Bays Mils reportedly filed suit against the state of Michigan on July 15 in the Western District Court of Michigan, naming Gov. Rick Snyder as the defendant, according to a report in the Bay Mills News, a monthly publication owned and operated Bay Mills Indian Community.

The News reported that “Snyder is being sued in his official capacity as chief executive officer of the state for trying to apply Michigan law to Bay Mills Indian Community’s Vanderbilt Casino.”

Bay Mills lawsuit intends to show that Snyder, as well as the State of Michigan, has no jurisdiction over federally recognized Indian tribes on Indian lands, according to the report.

In an April interview with The Times Herald, Jeffrey Parker, chairman of the Bay Mills executive board, reportedly said he expected to open a casino in Port Huron in 2012, despite ongoing legal setbacks. He told the Port Huron reporter that local support is required to open a casino.

Parker did not respond to requests for comment.

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