© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Legal Arguments on Casino Restraining Order June 4th

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A State Judge Tuesday delayed a decision that could halt the Senecas from building a casino in Cheektowaga. Arguments will be heard on June 4th for a petition by the City of Buffalo, seeking a restraining order to block the deal.

Cheektowaga seemed to be holding all the cards. According to a statement from the Senecas, the Nation plans to break ground on a casino in Cheektowaga in August. But not if lawyers for the city can stop it. Lawyers for the city, and some of its top developers want to halt the Senecas from buying 57 acres in Cheektowaga chosen for the casino. Mike Powers is a lawyer for the group seeking the restraining order. He says Cheektowaga was never part of the deal.

"The Legislature just never authorized a casino in cheektowaga," said Powers. "The Legislature based its decision on whether to authorize a compact on the Memorandum of Understanding, that never said Cheektowaga -- it never said any place in Erie County except Buffalo."

But that argument will likely come down to a footnote in that MOU. Both sides say the footnote supports their opposing claims. It says, "in the event a site in the city of Buffalo is not available for any reason, the Nation would propose an alternative site." Cheektowaga Town attorney Michael Stachowski says its meaning is clear.

"The Memorandum of Understanding says that if a site is available, that means ready to use -- read Webster's, ready to use," said Stachowski. "There's no site, for any reason, that's ready to use, that's been available for the Senecas. That's been the problem."

But city attorneys say the problem is that the footnote was altered in the final compact. The final casino compact added language substantially broadening the Senecas' discretion in choosing a site. Attorneys will present their arguments in state court on June 4th.