Residents ask supes to help them fight Indian housing Plan

   by BARRY W. DUGAN      Managing Editor
   Windsor Times 8-22-01

 A group of Windsor residents appealed to the Board of Supervisors to carefully scrutinize plans by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians for a 50-acre housing project on Windsor River road just west of the town limits.  Approximately 40 residents appeared before supervisors last week and presented a petition signed by 1,600 residents protesting plans by the Lytton Band to establish the land in tribal trust status, which would allow them to      build homes, an administration building and possibly a private sewage system.

 "We ask the board to be prepared to scrutinize any project and protect the rights" of neighbors, said Bill McCormick, who owns property near the proposed project.  Another neighbor, Todd Laird, told supervisors that, "if this is allowed to happen in Windsor, it can happen anywhere in Sonoma County."  Bob Crawford, another Windsor River Road resident, told supervisors that a 1991 stipulated judgment between the county and the Lytton Band requires any development by the Pomos to adhere to county zoning and land-use regulations.

 Board Chairman Tim Smith assured residents that the board "takes the General Plan very seriously."  Fourth District Supervisor Paul Kelley said the county would use the 1991 stipulated judgment "not only as leverage, but to thwart any outrageous violations of the General Plan. "

 But Tony Cohen, the attorney representing the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, said the 1991 judgment applies only to the former Lytton Rancheria land in the Alexander Valley.

 Deputy County Counsel Mark Goldstein agreed with Cohen, and said the requirement to abide by the county's General Plan appears to apply only to the Alexander Valley property.

 Cohen said in an interview last week that "the Windsor project is as dormant as dormant can be."  The application to establish the land in tribal trust has yet to be resubmitted to officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs until a legal battle over the Lytton's operation of Casino San Pablo is settled. The tribe's right to operate the East Bay casino, which would fund the Windsor residential project, is being challenged by four Bay Area card rooms and U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. Reid is challenging a provision written by Congressman George Miller that allows the tribe to take over the casino.

 "If the San Pablo project fails then there is no money to pursue the Windsor project," said Cohen. "If it fails, we will look in the 101 corridor of Sonoma County for a casino project. "  Cohen said any project would undergo extensive Environmental review by the BIA and during public hearings.  "We will make the environmental assessment available to the public as soon as we file it," he said. "To the extent they are presenting rational concerns, based on facts and asking for reasonal and rational solutions to their problems, the tribe will be very flexible and available."

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