Asks for $1 million after proposal sidelined
A development firm that in 2017 proposed a 30-building, 463-unit development on Route 9D just outside of Beacon filed a lawsuit against the Town of Fishkill last week, asking for $1 million after the Town Board sidelined the project.
The suit, filed in state court on July 9, also names the Town Board and Supervisor Ozzy Albra, who was elected last year after campaigning against the project.
The lawsuit alleges that the town violated an earlier agreement made with the developer, Hudson View Park Co., when in April it ended the review of a rezoning request made in conjunction with the proposal, called Rolling Hills at Fishkill. The developer wants the town to reimburse it for what it says has been more than $1 million in costs during the application and review process.
The town responded that a 2017 memo outlining a series of “good-faith commitments” by the Town Board, including consideration of rezoning 16 acres of the 57-acre project to allow for more housing units, “improperly and illegally” bound the town “eternally” to its terms. Only one board member, Ori Brachfeld, remains from the 2017 board that approved the agreement.
If approved, the development would be built on two parcels, one with frontage on 9D just north of the Mount Gulian Historic Site. The larger of the parcels is zoned residential while the 9D land is in a business district.
As envisioned, Rolling Hills would include 68 affordable-housing units and 24,000 square feet of retail. It would draw water from Beacon and residents would send their children to Beacon 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, with walking trails.
Project officials had asked the Town Board to rezone the smaller parcel for residential construction, but the board on April 1 voted unanimously to drop its review of the request.
Attorney Michael Zarin, who represents the developers, said Wednesday that Fishkill officials breached the 2017 agreement, which says that the town wouldn’t terminate its review “until it reaches a final determination on the merits in its legislative judgment regarding the best interests of the town based upon empirical data and other objective factual bases.”
He said the wording is common in agreements between municipalities and developers, acknowledging that the board has the authority to decide on a rezoning request but must guarantee it will “play out [the review] to the end.”
The town maintains that the current Town Board shouldn’t be bound by an agreement authorized by a previous board.
“Agreement” being the key word: Not a binding contract. Here’s how some developers operate now: 1) Ask for multiple variances far in excess of existing zoning, and 2) File a lawsuit when denied.