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SAN DIEGO-Following a decision by the state to stay out of the matter, county building officials will resume issuing permits for local tribal casino and resort projects in the city.

Now the county may go about setting up development guidelines in order for tribes to build the casinos, a task they will start this week. Nearly a dozen casino expansions or new construction projects are on the horizon. County supervision William Horn says the tribes will be treated “like any other developer.”

The county delayed action on permits needed to excavate and do water, sewer, telephone and electric hookups. Tribal officials accused the county, which has expressed concern about the projects’ impact on traffic and the environment, of throwing roadblocks in the path of their developments.

In the most recent of the projects to be announced, Pauma tribal officials ran into no significant opposition at a public hearing last month on their proposed casino project in the North County. Tribal officials promised to weigh the project’s impact on traffic, the nearby San Luis Rey River and Palomar Observatory.

The Pauma tribe plans to build an 80,000-sf casino on State Route 76, with 850 slots, more than three dozen card tables, three restaurants and other facilities. Nevada-based Pacific Coast Gaming will co-develop the project, kicking in up to $50 million in funding.

For the tribes, it’s a race against time to get their projects going. Under a state deadline, slot machines already permitted must be made operational within a year. That means the tribes must bring slots permitted last May online by May 2001 or risking losing their licenses.

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