Summary: Lawsuit Highlights pre-ordained process and Tyre Town Council’s willingness to push casino approvals through despite adverse environmental impacts.
Casino Free Tyre, a group of concerned local citizens, has filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Town Board of the Town of Tyre and mogul casino developer Thomas Wilmot. The motion seeks to vacate and nullify a biased Negative Declaration recently reissued by the town in response to a New York State Appellate Court ruling that found Tyre failed to complete the required steps of preparing a SEQRA environmental impact statement on Wilmot’s proposed Lago Development.
With its latest move, Casino Free Tyre is focusing attention on the corrupted process that has been pursued, including attempts by Wilmot and Tyre’s Town Board to skirt state environmental laws in an attempt to push forward with the casino at all costs.
“The Town of Tyre Negative Declaration ignores the fact that we are talking about a massive, Las Vegas-style casino that will forever change the character of our small rural town,” said Casino Free Tyre. “Our lawsuit spells out in crystal clear terms how the Town Board failed to meet its most basic obligations before signing off on the largest development project in our county’s history. We believe that we have a civic obligation to stand up to a proposal that would bring environmentally dangerous, poorly planned, profit-at-all-cost development to our community.”
“This has been called a ‘once in a generation development,’ yet other far smaller projects have been required to conduct environmental impact studies. To the detriment of the people who live in Seneca County, the Tyre Town Council has preordained Tom Wilmot’s massive project without considering or apparently caring about the adverse impacts.”
In light of the very low threshold for preparation of an EIS, the town acted arbitrarily, capriciously and contrary to law, as Casino Free Tyre notes in its legal filing. Supervisor Ronald McGreevy and the Town Board failed to fulfill their duties under SEQRA and instead did everything in their power to accommodate Lago, ulmately delivering the Negative Declaration sought by Lago. The Board’s flagrant violation of these requirements clearly demonstrates Wilmot’s influence over the town and the project.
Wilmot inially approached the town about placing the development in Tyre in November 2013, and was quickly met with enthusiastic support. Lago’s counsel advised Tyre’s Supervisor Ronald McGreevy on how to advance the development, including drafting resolutions, issuing instructions on amending zoning laws and action items and even sending letters and notices on the town’s behalf. Despite finding a “moderate to large” impact in numerous other categories, the town issued its first Negative Declaration in June 2014, claiming no major impact on the environment.
As the legal motion notes, lead agencies for other proposed casinos in Upstate New York have required preparation of environmental impact studies for projects much smaller in scale and impact than the proposed Lago Development. Construction at Lago has already created significant noise, dust and traffic, and the environment is being damaged every day that development activity persists.
The new casino poses at least 28 different potential moderate to large impacts, including land, agricultural resources, odor and light, traffic, community character, and consistency with community plans. Their combined effects certainly may have a significant adverse impact on the environment.