Chicken Ranch seeks road

Written by Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat March 18, 2013 09:06 am

The Chicken Ranch Me-Wuk Indian tribe hopes to build a new road for better access to its Highway 108 casino, remodeled little over a year ago.

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors is scheduled Tuesday to decide whether to send a letter to Caltrans in support of the road proposal.

The road, according to meeting documents, would give better access to Chicken Ranch casino visitors and ease traffic along Chicken Ranch Road, the Jamestown casino, bingo hall and entertainment venue’s current access.

The Chicken Ranch Rancheria Tribal Office sent the county a letter in January seeking support. The route, as proposed by the tribal office, would intersect with Highway 108/49 across from Mackey Ranch Road, to the west of Chicken Ranch Road.

Tribal Office Chairman Lloyd Mathiesen said in his letter that the new road would improve an existing gravel road. The tribe is also offering to pay for associated intersection improvements, which would include a light.

“In that Chicken Ranch Rancheria is looking at additional improvements to the existing facility that could generate additional traffic, timing is of the essence, and the tribe could proceed with construction as soon as Caltrans approval could be obtained,” Mathiesen said in his letter.

According to county documents, a new access would significantly reduce traffic on Chicken Ranch Road. The road currently experiences an above-average accident rate, according to meeting documents.

A remodel increased the casino’s size, accommodating almost 350 slot machines, a bingo schedule, full-service restaurant and space for other events.

The tribe also recently purchased land along Highway 108 that tribal leaders said in January was not going to be developed any time soon. However, Mathiesen did say in January there were plans to increase parking capacity and make some improvements to administrative offices.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda:

• A mid-year review of the 2012-13 budget, with reports on county revenues and expenditures so far this fiscal year.

• Three proposed contracts for design or environmental work on two separate bridges at Curtis Creek on Lime Kiln Road, and at Blanket Creek on Algerine-Wards Ferry Road.

• A presentation on the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority and its 2013-14 budget.

• A public hearing on changes to the county ordinance code that would clarify an affordable housing waiver and appeals process for county service impact fees.