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McFeely: Otter Tail County delays decision on Star Lake Casino

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners earlier this month voted to delay its next decision on a proposed casino/hotel/resort complex on Star Lake. The board will next take up the issue at a hearing Aug. 22 in Fergus Falls, Minn.

The commissioners will need to decide whether to accept a voluntary Environmental Assessment Worksheet on the controversial proposal by the White Earth Band of Chippewa, or whether it should order an Environmental Impact Statement. If the board decides to reject an EIS in favor of the EAW, it would forward the project to the county planning commission. An EIS would mean a much more detailed study that could be range in scope from very narrow to very broad.

Opponents of the project are urging the commissioners to call for an EIS. The Star Lake Concerned Citizens Group has been a very active and vocal opponent of the project, saying the 270-acre casino complex would damage wild rice beds and pollute the environmentally sensitive south arm of the lake. They’ve also raised concerns about increased traffic, crime, lack of enforcement, workforce shortage issues, the smell from sewage lagoons and light and noise pollution.

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