Last May, in Commissioner of the State of New York Department of Transportation, et al. v Polite, Index No. 610010/2019, the Suffolk County Supreme Court denied the State’s application for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the completion, maintenance and operation of two sixty-foot tall electronic billboard-monuments (“Project”) on opposite sides of State Route 27 a.k.a. Sunrise Highway. The Project is owned by the Shinnecock Indian Nation (“Nation”). The first billboard-monument situated on the southern side of Route 27 was completed and has been operational, but construction to complete the second billboard-monument situated on the northern side of Route 27 began just the other week.
The State reportedly served a stop work order for the latest construction, claiming the construction lacks permits, and threatened to issue daily fines of $1,000 for violations of the order. The Nation reportedly issued its own work permit for the construction. Additionally, sign placement along highways that does not comply with federal regulations may jeopardize federal funding to the State for roadways.
There is a dispute about whether the Project is located within the Nation or on its land, or whether the Project is located within the State’s right-of-way along Route 27. This matter presents an interesting issue of the competing Federal, State and Nation jurisdictions.
As the winter wanes and the warmer weather welcomes visitors to the East End, these issues will likely heat-up.