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Brasher rescinds land claim resolution to county

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BRASHER FALLS - Brasher officials unanimously agreed on Wednesday to rescind a resolution they drawn up in May in response to a memorandum of understanding signed by the state, St. Lawrence County and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe for the return of lands to the tribe.

Although they had agreed to the resolution and were going to forward it to St. Lawrence County officials, it never moved forward after its passage.

Town Supervisor M. James Dawson said he had received more information since the board had passed the resolution and asked councilmen to reconsider it “upon further research into the matter.”

In passing the resolution last month, Brasher officials had argued that, because they were not part of the talks and didn’t feel like they’re receiving fair compensation, the town “is not bound to this agreement in which it had no say” and they view the agreement as “a ‘taking’ without just compensation.”

In the resolution, town officials said the board had contended that 3,440 acres of land in Brasher was not available for settlement without proper compensation. The resolution also noted that Mr. Dawson “conveyed the fact that Brasher needed to be directly involved in any negotiations regarding Brasher land, since there is no land claim in Brasher.”

However, they said, “negotiations were done in secret without Brasher being a party to said settlement,” and county legislators “told Brasher what they would receive as compensation with no input from Brasher.” In their resolution, they said the county “kept the lion’s share of monies for themselves” while losing nothing in the process, compared to the 3,440 acres of land Brasher would lose.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed in Albany, the county would receive a one-time signing bonus of $1.5 million from the tribe and $2 million from the state and an additional $4 million of unrestricted funds annually. The county would pay $750,500 each to the towns of Massena and Brasher, and $500,000 each to the Massena and St. Lawrence central school districts.

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