Windsor opposes tribal development

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indian?s growing land acquisitions on Windsor?s western edge have prompted the Town Council once again to oppose the tribe?s development plans.

The Windsor Town Council this week voted 4-1 against the tribe?s plans for about 100 acres it owns on the south side of Windsor River Road.

The 275-member tribe, which has a casino in San Pablo, said it wants to put the land into federal trust to build housing and a community center for tribal members.

The problem is that the tribe has indicated it wants to build many more homes than what is allowed in the rural area under the county?s zoning regulations.

On Friday, a tribal spokesman confirmed the Lytton Band is planning to build 145 dwellings, in a mixture of single-family houses and townhomes.

Neighbors complain that the density will be about eight times more than what is allowed under the county general plan limit of one home per five acres.

Tribal representatives say they will use well water and build their own sewer plant if they can?t get Windsor to extend utility service.

Sonoma County Supervisor Paul Kelley, whose district includes Windsor, said Friday he has ?significant concerns? about the impacts of the development, including water and wastewater issues.

He said he wants to get more detail on the Lytton tribe?s plans, but noted the county previously passed a resolution similar to Windsor?s against any development on the property not in conformance with the general plan. Whether the county has the ability to stop such development is unclear.

Windsor officials and neighbors of the Lytton?s property are also dismayed that the the tribe has been unwilling to rule out a casino, even though a tribal spokesman has repeatedly insisted the tribe has no intention to build one at the site.

The Windsor Council in 2002 went on record opposing the tribe?s plans to develop 50 acres of oak-studded holdings beyond the guidelines allowed by the county general plan. Now that tribe has more than doubled its property by acquiring nearby parcels extending to Eastside Road, the council decided to reiterate its opposition.

Councilman Sam Salmon was the only council member this week to oppose the Town Council?s position. He said he could not support a move against ?Indian land being taken into trust.?

Salmon said that placing land into trust for tribes originated with the federal government as a way to compensate Native Americans for ?historical taking? of their lands.

?I?m not saying we took Indian land,? Salmon said of the Windsor area, adding ?We did it through Mexican land grants. Someone else did it. It was a taking.?

?This is about social equity,? he said.

But Councilman Steve Allen said he would oppose development on the town?s periphery whether the proponents were ?Vikings or Icelandic people.?

A group should not have the ability to develop property next to Windsor that is ?out of compliance with guidelines,? he said.

Bill McCormick, a resident who lives nearby, said he can sympathize with ?past transgressions? against Indian tribes, but described the Lytton?s plans as ?reservation shopping.?

?It is not OK to right the wrongs of the past to one group of citizens by infringing on the rights of other citizens,? he told the council.

County zoning regulations don?t apply on Indian land, but local government agencies have a chance to comment when tribes apply to the federal government to create reservations.

Tribal spokesman Doug Elmets said Friday ?we want to work with the city to meet the needs of the tribe and the city?s concerns related to health and safety.?

He said Windsor made its opposition known ?without looking at our final plans, which will be detailed in our environmental document.?

Elmets said the tribe applied about a month ago to have the land taken into federal trust. It probably will take at least two years before the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs decides whether to create a reservation, according to a memo from Windsor?s planning director.

The Lytton tribe has been considered landless since 1961 when the federal government dissolved its 50-acre Alexander Valley rancheria.

As a result of what Congress acknowledged was an illegal termination, the Lyttons were allowed to take over a cardroom in the East Bay which they turned into a casino.

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