Tribe buying land for
Class II gaming facility will be built in Marble
Marble – A Class II gaming facility could be
operating on tribal land in Cherokee County in 2011.
Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee
Indians, signed a resolution on May 5 that was approved by the
tribal council on May 4. The resolution authorizes a joint Class II
committee to access the necessary financing to fund land
acquisitions and purchase almost 800 acres in Cherokee County to
prepare for possible Class II or other tribally approved projects in
Hicks said Friday that a Class II facility in Cherokee County
would include gaming machines and “possibly bingo.” The casino on
the Qualla Boundary is a Class III gaming facility and has
blackjack, slot machines and all other types of gaming that are not
included in Class I or Class II.
“We need to secure the land and continue planning, including
market and financial feasibility,” Hicks said.
The Class II Gaming Committee studied and recommended which
lands the tribe should purchase for the Cherokee County facility, he
said. The 793.58 acres to be purchased at a cost of $6,414,828 is
both trust (tribal) and non-trust (non-tribal) land. Hicks confirmed
that the property is in the area of the old Mundys Lumber & Veneer
plant on Tomotla Road. The committee evaluated about a half-dozen
sites in the county. The overall scope or size of the project isn’t
“There is still a great deal of work to do, but I anticipate we
will move forward in 2010,” Hicks said.
It will take a minimum of 12 months to build the facility, and
it could take up to 15-18 months, he said.
“It will definitely [result in] a few hundred jobs,” he said.
The land to be purchased is the following:
• Tract 32 – 247 acres at $700,000;
• Tract 35 – 205 acres at $500,000;
• Stiles Colvard Creek Gorge – 26.64 acres at $386,200;
• Stiles Old Home Place – 4.94 acres at $100,000;
• BB&T foreclosure – 144 acres at $700,000;
• Stiles U.S. 19 frontage west tract – 115 acres at $2.3
• Mount Holdings plant site on highway – 51 acres at $1,450,000.
A commission of $278,628 would bring the total to $6,414,908.
The resolution states that other future opportunities available to
the tribe, in addition to job opportunities and housing that could
compliment a successful Class II operation on the proposed site
includes, but is not limited to, the following concepts or ideas:
• cultural heritage center and historical museum;
• veterans memorial;
• nature conservancy;
• outdoor gardens and nature trail;
• creek walk and waterfall tour;
• trout fishing, hiking;
• rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding;
• Great Smoky Mountain Railway and/or airport fly-in gaming
• tourist visitations;
• future residential golf course development.
County Manager David Badger, who also is director of the
county’s Economic Development Commission, said a gaming facility
would bring new jobs to the county. Construction workers would eat
and lodge here.
“Hopefully, it will spur further growth and induce confidence in
investing in our community,” he said.
Badger noted that anything built on tribal land won’t be subject
to property or sales tax, but he thinks it will have a positive
impact on the economy and bring jobs to the county.
Murphy Mayor Bill Hughes said a water line from Murphy to
Andrews already is in place. A gaming facility would require sewer
Hughes believes sewer lines go as far as the National Guard
Armory on U.S. 19/74. It probably would be about 2.5 miles to
extend lines to the future gaming facility.
Hughes said he hopes a gaming complex would filter people back
into Murphy to shop, eat at restaurants and stay the night.
“It will bring in extra jobs and probably building [around
tribal lands],” he said.