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Couple fights casino proposed for Seneca County

by Jane Flasch

Seneca County, N.Y.-- An unknown developer has been buying up land just off the thruway in Seneca County and now it's becoming clear why. He wants to build a casino there.

"Nobody cares about the people, all they care about is the almighty dollar," said Jane Morelli. She would rather be decorating her home for Christmas. Yet all of that is on hold, while she fights to save it.

"He was going to push on with or without our property," said Morelli. "So he's going to put a casino in our backyard and I'll have a parking lot here."

It all started when a brokerage company knocked on her door bearing six page contract. The Morelli's were offered $150-thousand dollars for their house and three acres. He did not want to answer questions.

"I said 'what are you putting in?' and he didn't say. He wouldn't tell us," said Morelli. "I said I can tell you right now what you are going to do. You're going to put that casino in."

In November voters approved a statewide proposition to build four privately-run casinos. In the weeks since Bob Hayssen, Chairman of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors made it clear he supports the idea because he says it would bring in $6 million dollars a year to local governments and school districts.

He had no comment on this proposal. Neighbors received notices in the main Monday and Tuesday announcing a public meeting about a "proposed major development" but it was not called a casino. The meeting is Tuesday night and some fear the short notice was designed to keep people away.

"We don't have time to plan for this," said Morelli.

Tyre's town supervisor declined to be interviewed or to answer questions about the proposal. He called Tuesday night's meeting "informational." 57 percent of voters in Seneca County voted for the statewide casino proposition.

The un-named developer is eyeing 83 acres of vacant farm land- an area not covered by tribal agreements which would bar a privately-run casino. That land borders two sides of the morelli home and one neighbor has already signed on.

After turning down a $150-thousand dollar offer - than one for twice that - the Morelli's say they've been forced to hire an attorney at $225-dollars and hour to try to preserve their way of life.

Their home was built more than two centuries ago and filled with memories. "$300-thousand dollars is a lot of money but it's not as important as my home," said Jane Morelli.

 
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