Developer argues Town Board exceeded authority
The builder of the proposed Continental Commons commercial development has asked a state court to overturn the Fishkill Town Board’s denial of water and sewer system extensions for his project.
In a lawsuit filed in state court in Dutchess County on Jan. 15, developer Domenico Broccoli alleges that the Town Board exceeded its authority in September when it rejected the water and sewer applications for the project, located on land that was once part of a Revolutionary War supply depot.
His lawsuit asks the court to force the board to approve the hookups, forbid town Supervisor Ozzie Albra from participating in discussions of the project and order Fishkill to pay the costs of the litigation.
If allowed to connect to an existing pipe system, the project would draw water from the Village of Fishkill and channel its wastewater and sewage to Beacon’s treatment facility.
Broccoli intends to construct a Revolutionary War-themed complex containing shops, restaurants, an inn and a visitor center on the 10.5-acre property on Route 9 near Interstate 84. The parcel includes a historic cemetery, which Broccoli pledges to preserve — the lawsuit asserts that “public access [to the cemetery] will not exist without the project.”
Continental Commons lies across Snook Road from the 18th-century Van Wyck homestead, a Revolutionary War command post, and is in a 74-acre tract listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the Revolutionary War, the tract was the epicenter of the Continental Army’s vast Fishkill Supply Depot, which stretched from Fishkill Village to northern Philipstown and Beacon.
In rejecting the water-sewer extensions, the Town Board cited its concern that an existing water main that Broccoli would use was never approved by the Dutchess County health department, nor was the sewer infrastructure.
That lawsuit asserts that the Town Board acted “beyond its legal authority” and claims state law “makes clear that the Town Board cannot deny a water or sewer extension based on a desire to minimize or prevent a development or to oppose a particular project.”
The lawsuit also argues that the Town Board “supplanted the authority of the Planning Board,” which granted preliminary site plan approval in 2019, and ignored the conclusions of previous Town Board members, who, until thwarted by the lack of a quorum and then an injunction, were poised to approve the extensions in December 2019, shortly before the board’s composition changed.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that Albra “made promises during his 2019 campaign to block Continental Commons in exchange for political support and financial contributions,” seeking favor from such groups as the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot. (Albra abstained from the vote in September.)
In a news release on Tuesday (Jan. 26), Broccoli contended that “Albra and the Town Board consistently, calculatingly and maliciously abused, and continue to abuse, government powers to derail the Continental Commons project.”