Judge prohibits town interference with Ventura enterprise
An interim judicial decision on Feb. 13 allows a Route 9 rock-crushing business to continue operations, with a catch — for every load of debris coming in, three must go out.
The Town of Philipstown has tried for several years to restrict the operations of RNV Green Processing and Supply on Lane Gate Road and Route 9.
In the ruling, Justice Gina Capone of the Putnam Supreme Court also lifted the restraining order she issued on Feb. 4 that prevented the business from engaging in rock-crushing at its site.
On Feb. 13, she likewise issued an order “temporarily restraining” Philipstown from taking any enforcement actions against the firm, run by Ricky Ventura, while legal proceedings continue in the court, part of the state judicial system.
Michael Sirignano, RNV’s lawyer, on Thursday (Feb. 27) termed the decision “a shocking first-round defeat for the town” because “the court granted all of the relief we asked for. Mr. Ventura has now resumed full operations, something the town sued him to immediately stop.”
RNV occupies a 9.6-acre parcel where, according to Sirignano, Ricky Ventura’s father ran the debris-processing enterprise for decades without problems. RNV is in a highway commercial zone, albeit one bordered by residential properties and historic rural estates, and the zoning code prohibits such businesses in that area of town.
Robert Cinque, Philipstown’s lawyer, said on Wednesday (Feb. 26) that he could not comment.
Ventura contends that his operations constitute a “legal, pre-existing, non-conforming activity,” in other words, one that had existed for years, was considered permissible, and now merely fails to fit under updated zoning laws.
Last April, the town’s code enforcement officer issued a stop-work order against RNV after it lost an appellate court ruling that capped a string of lower court defeats in battles against the town. Ventura asked the Philipstown Zoning Board of Appeals to overturn the stop-work order, but in January it refused.
Town officials then went to court to seek an injunction to halt RNV operations. Ventura in turn sued the town, asking for $50 million in damages. Justice Capone is presiding over both lawsuits.
In her Feb. 13 order, the judge directed that “for every single — 1 — truckload of material,” including “debris, soil, dirt, gravel, rock, etc. brought onto the premises for processing,” Ventura “shall thereafter remove 3 truckloads of materials that have been stockpiled and/or stored on the premises, comparable in size to every single truckload received.” She also ordered him to keep accurate records of the material handled and to retain an engineer to monitor and certify compliance with her ruling.
In a separate document, Capone wrote that, along with refraining from enforcement actions against RNV, the town must avoid “interfering with ongoing storing and processing” operations and “rock-crushing and the stockpiling and resale of such processed material on the premises,” at least until May, when the litigants are to appear at court for a conference.
Meanwhile, the filing of arguments can continue.