Residents voice concern over proposed casino expansion

Coconut Creek Seminole Casino proposes expansion

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. - Coconut Creek residents and Broward County officials spoke out Tuesday night at City Hall about the environmental impact of a proposed Seminole Casino expansion project.

"I would ask them to reconsider this project," said environmentalist Matthew Schwartz.

"We would like to object to the project," Broward resident James Spinks said.

The Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, located on the corner of Sample Road and 441, asked the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to allow the tribe to take about 45 acres it already owns next to the existing casino and declare it part of the tribe's sovereign land. This would allow the Seminoles to build while taking the land off the tax rolls.

The proposed development includes a 20-story, 100,000-square-foot, 1,000 room hotel resort with acres of retail shops, restaurants and a 2,500-seat theater.

"It's very sad because all the woods and all the beautiful peace that I had when I first moved in is gone," Coconut Creek resident Robin Davenport told Local 10's Baron James.

"We're anxious to move forward with this project," Seminole Spokesman Craig Tepper said. "We're excited about this project about taking this land into trust."

The forum follows the first federal environmental review in response to the Seminole Tribe's request to take approximately 45 acres it already owns next to the existing casino, and declare it part of the tribe's sovereign land allowing the Seminoles to add on while taking the land off the tax rolls.

Broward County will seek to preserve its ability to oppose the transfer of land to trust.

The first recently released federal review found that the proposed project would impact the community by generating about 1,100 permanent jobs while also affecting traffic and the water supply.

Residents went on record about what the development would do to wildlife preservation in this city billed as the Butterfly Capital of the World.

A response from the Bureau of Indian Affairs is expected by Nov. 15.

But even if the land trust gets the go-ahead, Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said the tribal council could decide to scrap the entire plan for a number of reasons, given the state of the economy and the current legal uncertainties of the gambling business in Florida.

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