Bill McCormick has watched his neighbors sell their property one by one to an American Indian tribe that has steadily acquired land next to Windsor's western boundary.
He's one of the few who has not sold to the Lytton Rancheria, which has purchased about 150 acres along both sides of Windsor River Road to develop a tribal housing project and cultural center.
"I'm totally surrounded on all four sides," he said last week. "I'm like a little postage stamp inside their property."
McCormick lives on a three-quarter-acre parcel and enjoys his country living, but it may not last.
"I have the most beautiful view from my backyard, open space and fields," he said. "Now, I will have a building at the edge of my fence."
That's because the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians is proposing to build up to 147 homes that would come close to his property line.
With the help of revenue from its San Pablo Casino in the East Bay, the 270-member tribe with roots in Sonoma County has for a decade been assembling rural properties on the western periphery of Windsor.
Most of the land is heavy oak forest and lies south of Windsor River Road, extending more than a half-mile to Eastside Road. But it also includes a meadow north of Windsor River Road behind the upscale Deer Creek subdivision. There the tribe is proposing a four-acre "effluent pond" that would hold treated wastewater generated by its housing and community center, which would not be connected to the regional sewage system.
Under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the tribe is wrapping up an "environmental assessment" for the project, which has been under way for more than two years. The public has until July 8 to submit comments.
It's a prelude to declaring the property American Indian land to be held in the trust of the federal government and allowing construction to proceed. But the BIA still must decide whether a more extensive environmental impact study will be required.
Local government agencies, including the Town of Windsor, County of Sonoma and state water regulators, all have urged more in-depth environmental review.
"To say I have significant concerns related to this project is an understatement," said Mike McGuire, the county supervisor whose district includes the site. "The environmental review document that is currently in circulation . . . is completely inadequate."
He said the development, which could remove as many as 2,000 trees, threatens "one of the county's healthiest blue-oak wood habitats."
And McGuire said the project's demands on police, school and park services also need to be more carefully scrutinized.
He noted that such a high number of dwelling units would never be allowed on the land under existing county zoning. Once the property is taken into federal trust, that zoning won't apply.
McCormick, who has headed opposition to the project, points out that the tribe doesn't have to follow local planning and zoning laws.
"It's ridiculous the federal government allows a group of people to be privileged above others as some compensation for past doings," he said.
Officials and nearby residents are leery of the tribe's intentions. There are lingering suspicions that the Lytton Pomos may want to build a casino despite their insistent denials that they have no such plan.