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Casino Slowdown

Opponents of a casino proposed for the Rohnert Park area were cheered by a federal agency's comment stating that the environment review process must start from scratch. The National Indian Gaming Commission has requested a complete review of the recently purchased property, according to the Stop the Casino 101 Coalition. The casino, proposed by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, would be built on a 270-acre parcel of land at the corner of Labath and Wilfred avenues, two blocks west of Highway 101. The tribe and its casino development partner paid a record $100 million for the site. A large casino would bring heavy traffic to the region, says Coalition spokesperson Marilee Montgomery, who lives a few doors away from the site. The impact "would be the equivalent of [bringing in] a small town every day of the year," she told the Bohemian. Montgomery also fears the casino would draw crime to the area and use such valuable resources as water. Tribal spokesperson Greg Sarris could not be reached for comment by press time. Local residents who wish to comment on the proposed casino may attend a scoping hearing at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 6pm.

0 Br, 0 Ba

It's no secret that it costs a fortune to live in Marin, but an auction last week in Bolinas may have set a new record. Someone paid hundreds of thousands of dollars not for a house or a piece of land--but for the rights to a water meter. A 1971 moratorium on new meters shut down building in Bolinas. But more than a decade ago the Bolinas Community Land Trust purchased a condemned house for its water meter. Last week, the group auctioned off its prized meter rights, enabling a well-heeled buyer to build a new house in Bobotown. Gail Reitano, executive director of the trust, hoped the permit would fetch $500,000, but the trust's treasurer, Don Deane, told the Marin Independent Journal bidding didn't go that high. He didn't reveal the exact price or the name of the purchaser. The trust will use the proceeds to develop affordable housing on Wharf Road. Hopefully, that building already has meter rights.

Bye-Bye B&B

A St. Helena couple has been fined $91,000 by a Napa judge for running an illegal inn and for holding winetastings that don't comply with local regulations. The couple, Peter and Paulette Story, who own the St. Helena Winery, said they believed they were following state law. But visiting Napa Superior Court Judge Michael Byrne said he was bothered by the Storys' "scofflaw practices" and "systematic avoidance" of city rules, according to NapaNews.com. The Storys said they could legally rent rooms under the "agricultural homestay" law. But Byrne said the Storys had previously flouted city codes by adding a bedroom without proper permits. This saga may not be over: the Storys say they will appeal tens of thousands of dollars of the fines.

--Briefs by Michael Shapiro

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From the September 28-October 4, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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