Declines to second-guess Fishkill Planning Board
A state judge ruled last month that the Fishkill Planning Board was within its rights to allow a commercial development along Route 9 on part of what was a supply depot during the Revolutionary War.
The judge rejected an appeal by the nonprofit Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot to overturn decisions in 2019 by the Planning Board that the project would not have “a significant adverse impact” on the environment or historical resources.
In an 11-page decision filed on Dec. 14, Justice Maria Rosa of state Supreme Court in Dutchess County said that the court did not have the power to “substitute its judgment for that of the agency.”
The proposed development, called Continental Commons in a nod to its location, would occupy about 10.5 acres on the east side of the highway in an area zoned for general business.
The property, located opposite the historic Van Wyck Homestead, includes a gas station along with a burial site that may contain Revolution-era graves. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Domenico Broccoli, who owns the parcel, hopes to construct a complex with a hotel, restaurant, retail shops and visitor center in which the architecture would mimic a colonial village. He has promised to protect the cemetery.
The Fishkill Supply Depot, which was established by Gen. George Washington and operated from 1776 to 1783, sprawled from northern Philipstown to Fishkill Landing (now Beacon) and Village of Fishkill.
Broccoli and the Friends of the Fishkill Supply have battled for several years over his plans.
In her decision, Rosa said that she could not rule on “the wisdom of allowing the proposed commercial construction on the site.” Instead, she wrote, she “must merely ensure that the Planning Board took a ‘hard look’ at the development’s potential adverse impact and that there were reasonable grounds supporting its determination” to allow Continental Commons. “The Planning Board met that standard,” she wrote.
Rosa acknowledged the conflicting opinions about the site’s historical and archaeological value but said it was up to the Planning Board “to determine which testimony to accept.” She also said that a comment made in 2015 by the board chair that she was “not afraid of some hysterical society,” while inappropriate, was not sufficient evidence that the board was biased for the developer, as the historical group charged.
Broccoli wants water and sewer districts extended to include the complex, which would rely on water from Fishkill while channeling sewage and wastewater to Beacon’s treatment plant. But in September, the Fishkill Town Board rejected the request.