Just a smidgen of what to look forward to by not opposing the trust applications. Tribes sue municipalities quite often merely because the municipalities do not agree.
Then there was the recent lawsuit by a tribal employee against the VVS High School for making it's views known against the Oneida trust settlement proposal. The court barred the high school from doing so in the future. Technically, I guess the school should not have sent out mailers as opposed to merely passing a resolution. They did much more than merely notify the media. They educated the public at large without media censorship.
The Oneida tribe strives toward censorship. They are not concerned about the potential lake pollution that the town is trying to prevent as they are about harrassing anyone who has opposed their dictatorship. http://www.madisoncountycourier.com/madi...wn-of-sullivan/
Attorneys for Oneida Nation Threaten Suit against Town of Sullivan
Posted By editor3 On June 11, 2009
By Martha E. Conway
The Oneida Indian Nation is threatening suit in connection with the $14 million Bridgeport Sewer District Project. According to Supervisor John M. Becker (R,C,I - Sullivan), the town received notice late last month from Nation attorneys that if the Sullivan Town Council did not rescind its negative declaration on the State Environmental Quality Review filed with the state Department of Environmental Conservation by May 27, an action would be commenced.
That action would challenge the town's SEQR compliance, "...a lawsuit that must be filed immediately given the approaching end of the applicable statute of limitations period,” wrote Michael G. Rossetti of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P., in a letter obtained by the Madison County Courier earlier this week.
In his letter, dated May 22, 2009, Rossetti asserts that the town's negative declaration was made without performing any archaeological cultural resource surveys.
"The Town similarly did not consult with or otherwise seek the input of the Nation," Rossetti wrote. "In these circumstances, the Town could not have adequately analyzed the potential for 'the impairment of the character or quality of important _ archeological _ resources.' As such, the Town's determination in its Negative Declaration that the proposed action 'will not have a significant environmental impact' is not correct, and certainly is not supported by the required study and analysis, and the Town must rescind the Negative Declaration. Moreover, since the Town was obviously not aware of the potential presence of cultural resources, the information that we are now providing constitutes 'new' information. Under [the SEQR Act] 'a lead agency must rescind a negative declaration when substantive _ new information is discovered.'"
Becker said the Town Council decided at an emergency meeting May 27 that the town stands by its negative declaration.
"All of the land involved has been previously disturbed,” Becker said, explaining that a road and water mains have been built through the project's target area. “They can go ahead and sue us. We are not going to rescind the SEQR. They had 30 days to reply."
Becker said this action could mean the loss of as much as $7 million in aid for the project, which he said he will now seek from other sources.
During the course of meetings held over the past several years regarding the project, engineers for Barton & Loguidice, PC, have stated that the project is being designed to have as little impact on the affected area as possible. Directional drilling will be used wherever possible to avoid excavating.
In a May 11, 2009, letter obtained by the Madison County Courier, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (SHPO) issued a "No-Effect" letter to B&L engineer Alexander S. Bauer. In the letter, Historic Preservation Specialist Daniel A. Bagrow of the Archaeology Unit of SHPO began by saying his "_comments are those of the SHPO and relate only to Historic/Cultural resources. They do not include potential environmental impacts to New York State Parkland that may be involved in or near your project." Other impacts, Bagrow wrote, fell under the jurisdiction of other agencies.
"Based upon this review, it is SHPO's opinion that your project will have No Effect upon cultural resources in or eligible for inclusion in the National Registers of Historic Places. This determination of No Effect is for the entirety of the proposed undertaking."
Fifteen days later, Nancy Herter, Ph.D., of SHPO sent a notice to David A. Miller of Rural Development, Becker, B&L, Jessie Bergevin of the Onondaga Nation [sic], Jeffrey Lanigan of the Environmental Facilities Corp. and Ian Shavitz of Akin-Gump that the agency was withdrawing its No-Effect letters of March 30 and May 11.
In her letter, Herter wrote the agency had received additional information "_regarding the Native American archaeological sensitivity of the Bridgeport Sewer District project_" from the Oneida Indian Nation May 20, 2009. She wrote that, according to the Nation, "_the location, topography and physical characteristics of the project area suggest that Nation members could have settled there, and accordingly that cultural resources could be present. Moreover, the New York State Museum Bulletin identifies the presence of cultural resources in the vicinity of the project area. Indeed it is possible that human remains and funerary objects could be present as well; but this cannot be known without proper investigation."
"Based on the above information, the SHPO believes that it would be appropriate for our agency to reinitiate the Section 106 consultation process for this undertaking," Herter wrote. "This will allow the SHPO to fully consider the archaeological knowledge and concerns of the Nation when providing your agency with recommendations regarding the effects this undertaking may have on cultural/archaeological resources within the area of potential affect."
In a letter to Rossetti dated May 29, 2009, and copied to Becker and B&L, Town Attorney Donald P. Colella wrote that he believed Rossetti mischaracterized the Negative Declaration.
"It states: 'A letter has been sent to the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHR) to ascertain if there are any potential areas of archeological concern with the project area,'" Colella wrote. "'The Town of Sullivan will perform the required archeological cultural resources surveys as recommended. The negative declaration not withstanding, the Town of Sullivan will modify the project plans, if necessary, to ensure that the project will have no significant impact on cultural resources identified within the project area, as the NYS OPRHP may require.'"
According to Colella's letter, it was necessary for the Town to address SEQRA as it did for a number of reasons.
"Because this is a sewer project and the sewer mains will be located in the road right-of-way, which contains previously constructed highway improvements, utilities and in some instances water lines, it is reasonable to anticipate that due to a 'prior disturbance' cultural artifacts will not be uncovered."
Colella said project design is such that the project will have no negative impact on cultural resources identified.
Colella said the town is prepared to perform any required archaeological cultural surveys as recommended when called for.
"Despite an ongoing line of communication with NYS OPRHP, a survey has not been recommended to date, and more importantly, no sensitive areas or areas of concern have been identified," Colella wrote.
He said a number of archeological studies have been undertaken north and south of Route 31 and the Town is familiar with those results.
"No previously identified area containing cultural resources is within the project area," Colella wrote. "Therefore, there is ample evidence to substantiate that the Town, as SEQRA lead agency, did take into account in its determination the potential presence of cultural resources."
Colella wrote that Rossetti's letter did not contain new information to substantiate rescinding the Town's Negative Declaration.
"Your letter is devoid of any information regarding important archeological resources," Colella wrote. "A self-serving declaration of maybe, possibly, could _ 'encounter, impact or destroy resources of cultural and/or religious significance to the nation' does not constitute new information, or fill this void."
"Your threat to a lawsuit is unwarranted and unprofessional in the circumstances outlined herein, as are your client's alleged fears of impact on cultural resources," Colella wrote. "All information supplied to the Town in this regard will be carefully reviewed to ensure, as stated in the Negative Declaration '_ Town of Sullivan will modify the project plans, if necessary, to ensure that the project will have no significant impact on cultural resources identified within the project area, as the NYS OPRHP may require.' You and your client are or should be aware, due to the supposed emphasis placed by the nation upon environmental matters, and being so in tune with nature and the environment, that this project will provide badly needed sanitary sewers to the only densely populated area of Oneida Lake that is currently without them, and therefore, is a project of immeasurable importance to assuring the quality of this most important natural resource - Oneida Lake. We would sincerely hope that the nation would not jeopardize critical funding that would make this a reality - an unfortunate and direct result of your feigned concern for nonexistent cultural resources, but an all to apparent obstructionist tactic."
"Please advise me as to whether or not the Oneida Nation wishes to submit information regarding important archeological resources beyond that of which the Town is aware, or do you simply intend to litigate an issue which requires none."
Becker said the Town will move forward with the project in spite of the hurdle.
"I am really disappointed to think that a people as environmentally conscious as the Oneidas would throw up political road blocks to a project that would help protect Oneida Lake," Becker said, adding that it is the town's policy not to comment on pending litigation, but they are awaiting further word in the matter.