Otter Tail County raise questions over environmental impact of new Star Lake casino

  • New Shooting Star casino project hits another bump on the road, with county officials requesting full EIS
  • The issue of a new casino seems to be a very sensitive one, affecting a number of stakeholders from all sides

The White Earth Band of Chippewa has plans to set up a new land-based casino on Star Lake in the rural parts of Otter Tail County.

Artists' impression of new Star Lake Casino
Artists’ impression of new Star Lake Casino which is facing major hurdles.

Although the band has necessary legal foundations to build a casino, which they decided to name Shooting Star, the county has the final say in other important aspects of the construction and they seem intent to fully exercise that power.

Namely, County commissioners have requested the band to provide a full-scale Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the new casino which will occupy some 270 acres in the vicinity of Dent.

Now, the county will determine the reach of the statement and after they receive the response to their request, the board will make the final decision about the project within 280 days.

Casino future hanging in the balance

According to Wayne Johnsons, vice chairman of the County Board, the proposal for a new casino is a very sensitive issue that created a lot of emotions on both sides of the fence.

While the tribe has the right to use the trust land to build a casino, there are many important aspects that need to be considered across different levels of government, from the local all the way to the federal level.

Furthermore, the White Earth Nation has proposed to extend the project on the nearby area, which isn’t a part of the trust.

The development plan encompasses a number of areas, such as improving the system of the local transportation. In the light of all this, county officials’ concerns don’t come as much of a surprise.

OUR VERDICT

The issue of new Star Lake casino is clearly a complicated one, with different stakeholders looking out for interests of various involved parties.

It is hard to say if the environmental impact statement request stems from a legitimate concern or serves as a way to delay the project.

Either way, county officials are fully within their legal right with their requests, and the band can only move forward with the project if they comply.

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