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Rural Residents Criticize Proposed Indian Casino

Residents voiced concerns that a proposed Indian casino and hotel would increase traffic, water usage and crime in their rural community.

The Pauma Band of Mission Indians has acknowledged that Casino Pauma would increase traffic on state Highway 76, which leads to the reservation from Interstate 15. It has also recognized potential harm to air quality and public safety and proposed ways to soften the impact.

More than 60 residents attended a meeting with tribal leaders Tuesday to review the plan.

"We all agree that they have the right to build a casino, but you have to do it with us in mind," said resident Miriam Easton Rutz.

The Pauma band opened a temporary casino in May 2001 on a 20-acre site north of Valley Center in north San Diego County. A metal-framed tent houses 1,090 slot machines and 22 table games.

Last year, the tribe said it would build a $300 million casino and hotel with the Mashantucket Pe34s' Foxwoods Development Co. The new casino would house up to 2,500 slot machines, 50 table games and 10 poker tables. A 23-story hotel would include 384 rooms, 16 villa-style suites, a spa, pool and gardens.

The 66-acre project would also include a 1,500-seat event center, 105,000 square feet of conference and office space and nearly 4,000 parking spaces.

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