Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

A unique agreement signed yesterday between the Elk Valley Rancheria and the Del Norte County government puts a proposed $30 million resort hotel on the fast track.

The project also includes a casino, golf course, restaurant and conference/entertainment center.

The agreement gives the Rancheria what it wants an endorsement from the county to transfer the now-taxable land to trust status and it also gives the county what it needs a cut of future profits to make up for the loss of property taxes.

I think what theyre trying to do will I hesitate to say save this community but it will greatly contribute to the economic development here, said Del Norte County Supervisor Jack Reese.

The supervisors voted on whether to sign the agreement after a brief history of the Elk Valley Rancheria and an outline of the project were given.

Both supervisors Martha McClure and David Finigan abstained from voting. Supervisors Reese, Chuck Blackburn and Clyde Eller all voted an emphatic yes, following the recommendations of county counsel Bob Black.

Its a good deal for them and the county. And I cant help but feel the creation of 200 jobs will be good for this county, Eller said.

The project, now dubbed the Bay Winds Resort and Casino, will be located near the corner of Highway 101 and Humboldt Road, south of Crescent City.

It will replace the Elk Valley Casino, also owned by the Rancheria, located on Howland Hill Drive.

The new memorandum of understanding between the Rancheria and the county includes specific projections of how much income the new project will generate for the county in lieu of traditional taxes.

As it is now, the old Martin and Starry ranches bring about $3,000 a year to county coffers through property taxes.

If the Rancherias professionally developed market analysis is correct the county will get $146,000 the first year after the project is done, and that number will increase by the eighth year to $250,000.

Those numbers include agreed-upon payments to make up for the sales tax, hotel-bed tax, property tax and impact fees generated by business at the resort complex which the tribe would not otherwise have to pay.

In return, the Rancheria, a sovereign nation, will receive law enforcement and emergency services from the county.

Tribal Chairman Dale Miller said now that the county has signed on in support and the MOU has been agreed to, what could have taken eight years to get approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs will now likely take one year.