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County, Seminole services agreement OK’d

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Tribe’s push to expand interests in Coconut Creek came a step closer with the recent approval of a governmental services agreement between Broward County and the Seminole Tribe.

In an 8-1 vote Feb. 11, county commissioners cleared a roadblock to the Tribe’s 8-year-old application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that could add 45 Seminole-owned acres around the 5-acre Coconut Creek Casino to land in trust.

Plans for the property, once placed in trust, include a roughly 1,000-room hotel, 2,500-seat showroom, 4,800-space parking garage and 47,000 square feet of retail space and related facilities.

Commissioner Tim Ryan posed the dissenting vote.

Ryan, a former state representative (D-Dania Beach) serving his first term on the county commission, said he worried that the Tribe would create a “world-class gaming resort” on the additional property and suggested that the commission needed more time to clarify the issue. Ryan asked to postpone the vote.

“I don’t want to rush to judgment,” he said.

Commissioner Lois Wexler countered Ryan.

On the county board since 2004, Wexler said that “items building up to this” had come before the commission numerous times since 2006, when the Tribe first submitted the Trust Application to the BIA. Wexler said it was time to end years of discussion and formally lift the county’s past objections.

“It has been through the art of negotiation that we meet in the middle with a decision that Chairman (James E.) Billie and the county can benefit from,” Wexler said.

County services currently supplied to the 45-acre property, including emergency response, will continue to be provided through the BIA application process and when the land is eventually entered into trust.