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Anti-casino group files new lawsuit challenging project

Local residents opposed to Wimorite Inc.’s plans to build a casino in the Seneca County town of Tyre have thrown a new roadblock in the way of the $425 million Lago Resort & Casino project.

A group of anti-Lago Tyre residents, calling itself Casino Free Tyre, this week filed a new Article 78 petition seeking to upend the project.

The new court action, filed Monday in Supreme Court in Seneca County, challenges the Tyre town board’s Oct. 1 approval of an environmental impact statement that would clear the way for the project to proceed.

The lawsuit also seeks to undo zoning changes Tyre town lawmakers passed Oct. 1.

The town board’s approval of the environmental impact statement was “the result of a biased decision-making process,” the anti-casino group contends.

“(By) refusing (in the Oct. 1 vote) to acknowledge that the Lago development … could have even one potential significant impact on the tiny rural town of Tyre,” the town board  contradicted stands it had taken earlier and violated the state Environmental Quality Review provisions, Casino Free Tyre claims.

The noise, light and millions of visitors that Lago, “a massive Las Vegas style hotel and casino development with round the clock operations” would bring to the less than 1,000 in population Seneca County town would inalterably change the rural town’s primarily agricultural character, the anti-casino activists contend in the court filing.

Charges leveled in the Seneca County group’s the lawsuit echo charges McKenzie & Connolly lawyers made in a letter sent to the New York State Gaming Commission on the Oneida Indian Nation last spring.

The new court action also follows a lawsuit Casino Free Tyre members filed in June challenging an earlier Tyre Town Board environmental impact vote on grounds the board had not fully reviewed the project’s consequences.

The anti-casino activists’ earlier court action called a temporary halt to Lago’s progress after a July state court 4th Department Appellate Division panel ruling reversed a lower court ruling siding with the board.

The town board’s Oct. 1 vote came after it revisited the issue in light of the July appellate court ruling.

Law firms representing the anti-Lago group in the new Article 78 action are Syracuse-based MacKenzie Hughes LLP and Washington, D.C.-based Williams & Connolly LLP.

The latter firm also has represented the Oneida Indian Nation in the Native American tribe’s bid to block Lago, a competitor the Oneidas fear would cut into their gambling operation, the 3,400-acre Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, Oneida County.

In the end, the anti-casino group might impede Lago but would not manage to kill the project, Wilmorite chairman Thomas Wilmot Sr. has predicted.

“I believe all they can do at this point is delay us with litigation,” Wilmot told the Rochester Business Journal in an interview last September.    
(c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail rbj@rbj.net.


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