Judge rules for village in dispute with Oneida

Hobart, Wisconsin (AP) 4-08

A federal judge ruled that land in the village of Hobart that was acquired by the Oneida tribe remains subject to the municipal government’s power of eminent domain.

U.S. District Judge William Griesbach issued a summary judgment regarding the so-called fee land within the boundaries of what once was the Oneida Indian Reservation.

Fee land is owned by a tribe but not placed in trust through the federal government.

Trust land, by contrast, is exempt from a number of taxation laws.

Village officials had long-range plans to extend sewer, water and roads through the piece of land to the northern part of Hobart.

Condemnation proceedings had been initiated by the village before the tribe filed a lawsuit in December 2006 to settle the condemnation, special assessment and zoning issues with the village.

The judge concluded “the village has condemnation, special assessment and taxation authority over lands purchased in fee by the Oneida Tribe of Indians.”

He said that since it is fee land and was owned by a third party before the tribe bought it, it isn’t subject to exemptions allowed for federal tribal land.

Village President Rich Heidel said the tribe had decided to file the lawsuit in federal court.

“I believe (the decision) is probably going to have ripple effects nationally,” he said.

The entire village of Hobart is within the original reservation boundaries.

The tribe has indicated it intends to buy back as much of that original land as possible.