Judge upholds vote to end review of Rolling Hills
A state judge this week upheld the Town of Fishkill’s decision to end its review of a rezoning request from a firm proposing a 30-building, 463-unit development on Route 9D just outside Beacon.
Supreme Court Judge Christi Acker, who is based in Dutchess County, on Monday (Jan. 4) dismissed the lawsuit filed in July by Hudson View Park Co. against Supervisor Ozzy Albra and the Town Board, which had voted on April 1 to end its review of a request to rezone a parcel for the firm’s proposed Rolling Hills at Fishkill development.
Hudson View’s plan included 68 affordable housing units and 24,000-square feet of retail built on two parcels, one with frontage on 9D north of the Mount Gulian Historic Site. The larger of the parcels is zoned residential while the 9D land is in a business district.
The project was to have drawn water from Beacon and residents would have sent their children to Beacon schools. The developer would likely have been required by the state to install a traffic-calming device — possibly a traffic circle — on Route 9D, while 55 percent of the land would have remained open, with walking trails.
Hudson View, which sought reimbursement of what it said was more than $1 million in costs during the application and review process, argued that the current Fishkill board was obligated to continue reviewing the request under an agreement approved in 2017. Only one board member, Ori Brachfeld, served at that time.
Acker, however, ruled the agreement was void under a “term-limits” rule, which “prohibits one municipal body from contractually binding its successors in areas relating to governance unless specifically authorized by statute or charter provisions.”
The judge said the agreement also constituted “illegal contract zoning” because the language approved by the previous board committed the current one to act on the application, when it also had the right not to vote on it.
Albra, who won his seat in 2019 after campaigning against the project, said the decision confirmed that the vote to end the review was proper.
“The Town of Fishkill will not allow developers to dictate to the town how it will operate,” he said in a statement.
Michael Zarin, the attorney for Hudson View, called the ruling “disappointing” and said it “sets a dangerous public policy regarding economic development in New York state, and the integrity of government officials such as the current town administration.”
He added: “The decision is contrary to the prevailing case law, and will not stand. It will also be viewed very badly by future persons thinking about investing in the Town of Fishkill.”