Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb Offers Written Testimony Opposing Conveyance Of Local Lands Across Cayuga And Seneca Counties Into A Trust

June 17, 2009

“Tonight, as the state Assembly was in session, I submitted written testimony to a public hearing conducted on the Cayuga Indian Nation’s seeking conveyance of nearly 130 acres in local lands across Cayuga and Seneca counties into a trust. As expressed in my written comments delivered this evening, I strongly oppose this conveyance.

I am proud to stand alongside leaders from across Cayuga and Seneca counties who believe that placing this considerable amount of acreage into trust would impose an unnecessary economic strain on local governments. Additionally, I expressed my concerns that potential development occurring on the affected lands would be exempted from state environmental and health regulations.

It is my hope that the Bureau of Indian Affairs will recognize the strong local opposition to this project and reject the proposal.”

Below is a copy of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s written testimony submitted at tonight’s public hearing in Seneca Falls.

Public Comment From Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb:

Good evening. I regret that, due to the State Assembly currently being in session, I am unable to personally attend this public hearing and offer my formal comments. In recognition of the seriousness of this issue, and its potential adverse impact on our community, I am providing the following written statement for inclusion as part of the official public record.

As Minority Leader of the New York State Assembly, and representative for the 129th Assembly District which includes Onondaga, Ontario, Cortland, Cayuga and Seneca counties, I am strongly opposed to the conveyance of nearly 130 acres of local lands across Cayuga and Seneca counties into trust for the Cayuga Indian Nation.

I also want to express my disagreement with what I – and numerous local leaders representing Cayuga and Seneca counties – believe to be an incomplete and inadequate Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) due to a lack of data to support the conclusions and findings in the document. The DEIS also fails to take into account pending litigation, and should be withdrawn until such time as the litigation is resolved.

In these challenging fiscal times, when localities are already struggling to do more – and make do – with less, removing this considerable acreage from local property tax rolls is shortsighted and ill conceived. Conveyance of these local lands into a trust would only increase the already considerable financial burden on area taxpayers, while curtailing much-needed revenue for essential local services.

Furthermore, the trust would allow unregulated commercial development that could drastically impact the quality of life throughout Cayuga and Seneca counties, as such development would be excluded from state public safety, environmental and health regulations.

It is for these reasons that I oppose the proposed conveyance and urge its denial by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

I again call on our federal representatives – Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Congressman Mike Arcuri – to weigh-in on this issue best settled at the federal level, where extensive case law and legal precedent have repeatedly opposed such a conveyance. The taxpayers of Cayuga and Seneca counties want an end to the leadership vacuum that has occurred at the federal level regarding this matter.

Thank you for affording me this opportunity to offer my comments as part of the official record for tonight’s public hearing.