The Bureau of Indian affairs has approved a request for 35.22 acres of Montville land to be taken into trust by the Mohegan Tribe.
Annexation of the parcels mean the loss of roughly $45,000 a year in taxes.
This process to take these has been underway since 2009. Comments from the town and the state were received by the BIA in 2009.
"It's great news for the tribe," said Chuck Bunnell, chief of staff for external affairs. "The land that’s being taken into trust is predominantly property that was of great historic significance to the tribe."
Mayor Ron McDaniel said that the town has known about the annexation for years. "We were ultimately prepared for it," he said.
The recently annexed parcels are:
- Two parcels, of 1.29 acres and 1.45 acres on Mohegan Sun Blvd.
- Two acres at 194 Fort Shantok Road
- A parcel of 3.78 acres at 63 Broadview Ave.
- A parcel of 3.64 acres at 63-75 Broadview Ave.
- A parcel of 5.47 acres at 91-95 Broadview Ave.
- A parce of 12.4 acres at 99 Broadview Ave.,
- A parcel of 1.09 acres on Sandy Desert Road
- A parcel of 0.86 acres at 1819 Route 32
- A parcel of a half-acre at 16 Chuch Lane
- A parcel of 2.74 acres at 58 Broadview Ave.
A document from the Bureau of Indian Affairs says that no jurisdictional issues or concerns were raised, “or are foreseen from the use of the property as proposed.”
According to the document, the proposed use of the parcels will remain as they are now, residential and commercial.
The document says, “once in trust, property held in trust by the United States for Indians would not be subject to county or city zoning regulations,” and goes on to say that the tribe agreed, in 1994, to set health, safety, fire and building codes “identical to or more stringent than those of the state.”
Under the rules of the current settlement, Bunnell said, the tribe is allowed to annex up to 700 acres in Uncasville. Including the February annexation of 35.22 acres, it already has 350 acres, said Joe Smith, manager of tribal communications. There is to be no contesting of the original 700 acres.
Bunnell said that the 158-acre Village of Shantok, formerly Fort Shantok, does not count toward the total.
To take property into trust, the tribe buys it on the open market, then turns it over to the federal government, which becomes the owner of the land for the tribe.
While the settlement set 700 acres as the total, Bunnell said, the tribe may take more than 700, though the rules governing those acres will be different.
Gaming can not be conducted on land that is not contiguous to land already owned by the tribe. Some of the Broadview parcels, he said, and the Fort Shantok parcel, are contiguous.
"The tribe is interested in buying parcels that are of historic significance," Bunnell said. The tribe would consider buying contiguous land, but does not pay "overmarket values" for property.
"The tribe is not in a rush," he said. "As properties become available, if they are reasonably priced, (the tribe) will look at them."