The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians today held a special meeting to consider a referendum petition regarding the pursuit of a casino in the City of Lansing. Pending final validation of the referendum petition, tribal members may have the opportunity to vote on Resolution 2012-11, titled Approval of Comprehensive Development Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan; Authorization to purchase land in Lansing, Michigan using income from the Land Settlement Trust Settlement Trust Fund; Approval of Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Lansing, Michigan passed by the Sault Tribe Board of Directors on January 24, 2012. The agreements put in action steps for the Tribe to pursue a casino in the City of Lansing.
At a special meeting held today, the Tribal Board was presented with the referendum petition, which was deemed valid by the tribe’s legal staff, office of the Executive Assistant to the Board, and the enrollment department. The board approved sending of the referendum to tribal members for a vote pending a review and concurrence by the board Secretary as stated in the Tribal Code.
A total of 170 signatures were collected, with a total of 106 preliminarily deemed valid. Language on the ballot is yet to be determined as it is set by the tribe’s Election Committee. Per Tribal Code, the process of sending and announcing results must take no more than 60 days from the day the Tribal Board approves the referendum.
“This is an extremely significant vote that could go out to our people,” said Tribal Chairman Joe Eitrem. “It could be devastating to the tribe if members vote against it. This casino project is unique – it allows us to establish a cash flow to our tribe with insignificant risk on our end, developers who are fronting the costs of the project, and a very willing partner in the City ofLansing.”
Eitrem said that he believes the Tribe’s members will understand the opportunity that this project presents and will strongly support it, as many did in recent community meetings. “Sixty eight percent of those attending informational meetings on the proposed Lansing casino project said they support the proposal,” said Eitrem. This was according to surveys filled out by Sault Tribe members, employees and some community members who were at the meetings which took place in February throughout Michigan.
If members vote to overturn Resolution 2012-11, the Board’s approval of the development agreement with the City ofLansingand Lansing Future, LLC – the developers in this project – will be invalidated. “If this were to happen, we would have to reconvene with all parties and determine how best to proceed,” said Chairman Eitrem.
If members vote yes on the ballot – to approve Resolution 2012-11, the Board’s approval of the project will remain in effect.