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County OKs IGA with Tohono O’odham

Construction on the Tohono O'Odham Nation's Desert Diamond Resort and Casino carries on during a ceremony to celebrate the placement of the last piece of steel on the casino in Glendale. Photo credit: Nick Cote/Daily News-Sun

By Tina Gamez for Daily News-Sun

Maricopa County and the Tohono O’odham Nation have gone into an intergovernmental agreement after a unanimous vote by the board of supervisors. The agreement will allow the Nation to follow its building codes during construction of the West Valley Resort casino.

Even though the supervisors voted in favor of the agreement during Wednesday’s board meeting, a vote for the agreement is not necessarily a vote of support for the project.

Some of the board members hold a neutral position said Supervisor Steve Gallardo, Dist. 5, even though he personally a strong supporter of the West Valley resort.

Out of the approximately 135 acres owned by the Tohono O’odham Nation, 54 acres is what they’re currently developing and the remaining 81.34 acres of unincorporated county land is in the process of being placed into federal trust as reservation land.

Glendale Councilman Gary Sherwood said the reason the Nation didn’t take the whole amount into trust was because at the time, Glendale was fighting that the land was under annexation. But, Sherwood added, the judge ruled that it couldn’t be annexed.

Sherwood added, that when they were going to move land into trust, “they moved it in as they needed it. So to move the project forward, they just took in the acreage that Glendale wasn’t fighting.”

Gallardo said the board’s role with the IGA is administrative and something they would do “with any other government, and this particular case, a tribal government.”

He said this will “allow them to utilize a particular parcel that belongs to the county.”

There was no comment from Tohono O’odham officials on the IGA.

Read more at YourWestValley.com