Rolling Hills developer says decision cost $1 million
A real estate development firm says it plans to sue to recoup a $1 million loss after the Town Board ended its review of a request to rezone 16 acres along Route 9D, just north of Beacon.
The rezoning, if granted, would have allowed Hudson View Park Co., based in New York City, to present the Fishkill Planning Board with plans for a 30-building, 463-unit development called Rolling Hills. But on April 1, at the end of a nearly three-and-a-half-hour meeting, the Town Board voted unanimously to drop the review.
If approved, the project would include 68 affordable-housing units and 24,000 square feet of retail space. It would draw drinking water from Beacon and send children to the city’s schools. The developer would likely be required by the state to install a traffic-calming device — possibly a traffic circle — on Route 9D, while 55 percent of the land would remain open.
The developer says the town is in breach of a memo Fishkill officials signed in 2017 outlining a series of “good-faith commitments,” including the Town Board’s review of the rezoning request. The Town Board says it cannot be bound to a decision made by a previous board. According to an April 1 letter from town attorneys, the 2017 agreement “improperly and illegally binds all [Fishkill] town boards eternally” to its terms.
If the town ruling stands, Hudson View Park may still submit a proposal to the Planning Board, but would have to conform to the present zoning of the site, which is two parcels. One parcel is zoned for residential building while the other, which fronts Route 9D, is in a planned business district. The developer was asking the town to rezone the second parcel for multi-family construction.
Project officials took the town to task this week, calling the move “rash and arbitrary.”
“Hudson View Park has owned this property for many decades and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate property taxes,” said Jeffrey Freireich, a project representative, in a statement. “It was seeking to develop this property in a responsible and sustainable manner. Unfortunately, the supervisor’s and the board’s irresponsible and illegal actions have left us no choice” but to sue.
Fishkill Supervisor Ozzy Albra, who campaigned in opposition to Rolling Hills, narrowly defeated incumbent Bob LaColla last November.
On April 1, during the waning moments of a meeting held by video conference, the board adopted a resolution declaring it is “in the best interest of the town” to end the zoning review. “For the citizens of Fishkill watching tonight, you should be very happy that your board did this,” Albra said. “It was worth the watch.”
Rolling Hills officials orchestrated “one of the most interesting setups in Fishkill history,” Albra said on Tuesday (April 21). “If they propose a plan that fits [the current zoning], we’re not going to prevent that from happening. But the days of developers trying to run this town are over.”
In a letter sent to Albra the day before the April 1 vote, Rolling Hills’ attorneys argued that the project had become “the target of a well-funded misinformation campaign led by the owner of the neighboring development” and others in Fishkill.
Moreover, “in the middle of the nation’s worse crisis in decades, with no notice or opportunity to attend the meeting or be heard,” the development group “discovered on its own” the board’s plan to terminate its review of the rezoning request, the letter said.