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Chumash Tribe Purchases 350 Acres Near Reservation

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has purchased 350 acres of land adjacent to its reservation — more specifically, next to a parcel the tribe is working to place into federal trust.

Tribal spokeswoman Hildy Medina confirmed the acquisition this week, describing the property as one between Meadowvale Road and Highway 154 along Highway 246.

The tribe paid $15 million for the parcel, according to Santa Barbara County Assessor’s Office records.

The land is near Camp 4, a 1,433-acre agricultural property the Chumash bought from the late Fess Parker in 2010 with the intent of building homes for tribal families.

Medina wouldn’t elaborate on why the tribe bought the land or what it intends to do with the new property, which is currently zoned for agricultural use.

Rancho San Carlos Land Company sold the parcel to the Chumash on June 26.

“The tribe hasn't discussed what it plans to do with the property,” Medina said.

Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta was traveling Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment.

The purchase is more than double the size of the Chumash’s 138-acre reservation at 3400 E. Highway 246.

The tribe has been working to place nearby Camp 4 into federal trust for several years to the dismay of county officials and some valley residents, who are upset the change would remove the acreage from county tax rolls and planning processes.

In late 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the tribe’s fee-to-trust application.

That decision won’t be official, however, until appeals filed by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and other Santa Ynez Valley organizations are resolved. The BIA has yet to hear them.

A federal law could make those pleas moot. HR 1157 would place Camp 4 into federal trust and prohibit gambling on the site where the Chumash hope to build 143 residential units. The bill has no other developmental restrictions and is working its way through the legislative process.

Despite the language, many locals still fear the tribe could build or expand its existing reservation casino. County officials have repeatedly objected to the annexation, citing inadequate mitigation for traffic, noise, and other impacts.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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