Phoenix (September 23, 2010) – In an interesting twist of events, one of the two cities bordering a proposed new American Indian casino has now sued the Obama administration. The city of Glendale filed the federal lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Phoenix seeking an injunction against the U.S. Department of Interior ruling stating the land could be counted as part of the Tohono O’odham tribes land holdings.
A critical part of the Secretary’s decision hinged upon a complex municipal law question as to whether the Tohono O’odham land was within the “corporate limits” of the City of Glendale. Livability Law Group’s Jon Paladini played a vital role in the Secretary’s decision by drafting a legal opinion addressing the question on behalf of the Nation, which was in turn adopted by the Secretary in his decision.
The Arizona tribe wants to build the “West Valley Resort” on property located at 91st and Northern avenues just north of the University of Phoenix stadium. According to the Nation, the 54 acre site sits on county land between Peoria and Glendale and because of a previously established law passed in 1983, the tribe has the right to buy it. The law allows the tribe to buy unincorporated land in the Phoenix area to replace the nearly 10,000 acres of historically lost land destroyed by the U.S. government.
But the city of Glendale argues some of the land on the proposed parcel is land it actually annexed in 2001. It’s also opposed to a casino being located across the street from Kellis High School and near residential neighborhoods. “The Tohono O’odham Nation’s plans are detrimental to everybody but to the Tohono O’odham Nation,” Glendale Mayor Eliane Scruggs said.
City officials are also concerned with losing control over how the land develops and the possibility they could face the financial burden of providing services such as water, roads and police protection. “Their scenario would remove the potential economic health and wealth from a community and actually hurts those who invested their money,” said Scruggs.
However, the casino with it’s 600-room resort is touted by the tribe as an economic engine that would create 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent ones. Tohono O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said the lawsuits “are filled with stale arguments designed to distract the public from the fact that this is a critical economic development project for the West Valley and the entire state of Arizona.”
The casino and resort site is near the Westgate City Center, the city’s sports and entertainment district and border both Peoria and Glendale. The city of Peoria is not opposed to the casino.