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Shinnecock And Southampton At Odds Over Billboards

Courtesy of Town of Southampton

The Shinnecock Indian Nation is expected to finish two monuments on either side of Sunrise Highway on Long Island. The tribe says the structures mark where their reservation begins.

But officials in nearby Southampton Town say they’re billboards, and the town prohibits billboards.

Lance Gumbs, vice chairman of the tribe’s Council of Trustees, says the tribe is within its right. They own the land and are an independent sovereign nation, which means town laws don’t apply to them.

“The town wants to stifle any economic development that the tribe has, and it's just unacceptable to us at this point in time.”

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman says he hopes the tribe will change its mind.

“These signs are out of character for our area. We typically don’t have six-story structures. We don’t even allow billboards or illuminated signs for business establishments, so we certainly would hope that they will progress to other ideas.”

The tribe says it needs the advertising revenue.

Town officials want them to consider other revenue sources, like a gas station or hotel and spa, that would be better for the community.

The state Department of Transportation is reviewing the project.

Jill Ryan is a former news assistant at WSHU.