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Mastic residents say they are opposed to liquor store on Poospatuck Indian Reservation

Plans for the first liquor store on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation in Mastic have drawn opposition from residents and Brookhaven Town officials.

Reina’s Liquor Corp., located on the reservation, submitted an application for a license last month with the State Liquor Authority, records show. Reina Morrison, listed as a principal of the company, could not be reached for comment.

However, Poospatuck chief Harry Wallace said in a phone interview Wednesday that he believed the application had been withdrawn. He said he had not spoken to Morrison about the application.

“I think it was pretty clear that it was withdrawn,” Wallace said, adding he did not know why the application was canceled. “I’m not going to speculate on it.”

Liquor authority spokesman William Crowley said late Wednesday the application had not been withdrawn.

Some Mastic residents have written to state officials asking that the application be denied. They say a liquor store would exacerbate problems such as traffic congestion at the reservation, where stores sell tax-free gasoline and cigarettes.

Some residents also have complained about drug activity around the reservation.

“There’s enough stuff going on down there without bringing liquor into the mix, as well,” said Beth Wahl, president of the Mastic-Shirley Chamber of Commerce, who said she emailed state liquor authorities Wednesday to express her opposition to the license request.

“If you bring in tax-free liquor stores, it’s going to get worse,” she said.

The Poospatuck reservation is the home of the Unkechaug tribe, which is recognized by New York State. The reservation is one of two Native American reservations in Suffolk County.

The Shinnecock tribe, in Southampton Town, is recognized by the federal government.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said liquor stores and other businesses on the Poospatuck reservation do not need approvals from the town. He said he has encouraged concerned residents to contact state liquor authority officials.

“We already have issues with regard to the fact that the reservation is in the middle of a residential area. We have no planing, no zoning, no building authority on the property,” Panico said in an interview. “If we had zoning authority over the reservation, this would never be approved.”

Suffolk County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter declined to comment.

Last month, Rodney Morrison, a cigarette dealer on the reservation, pleaded guilty in Central Islip federal court to a charge of racketeering conspiracy for selling bootleg cigarettes. He is expected to be sentenced to 13 years in prison and forfeit $6.1 million as part of a plea deal.

Federal authorities said the forfeiture money is from the illegal sale of untaxed cigarettes on the reservation from October 1996 to September 2004.

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