Southampton's town board took a key step toward eliminating any possibility that an Indian gaming casino would be built at the county-owned Gabreski Airport in Westhampton this week.

The board held a hearing Tuesday on a zone change which would rule out any indoor entertainment at the site.

There is no pressure to act quickly. The Shinnecock Tribe, which is interested in building a casino, does not yet have federal recognition - their application is expected to be acted on by June 21 - and has no agreement with the state that would allow it to build a casino.

And the airport was declared inappropriate as a casino site by county officials, who took it off a list of potential sites it is discussing with the Shinnecocks.

Still, Southampton officials decided to act quickly to change their zoning code to end any possibility of a casino being built there. And, as they voted to close their hearing, the board apologized to the tribe for not giving it formal notice of their planned action in time for the tribal council to review and comment on the zone change.

The public can also comment on the zone change when it comes up for a formal vote, which could be as soon as next month.

Past failures by the town to notify the tribe of zoning changes and other issues that could effect what Shinnecocks consider sacred lands has frustrated the tribe.

Randy King, tribal council chairman, said Wednesday the town had not informed the Shinnecocks about the zoning change. "We try to keep the door open at all times. . . . It's very frustrating."

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