Again targets Fishkill board over Continental Commons
The developer of the proposed Continental Commons complex on Route 9 in Fishkill on Christmas Eve fired a fresh legal salvo against town authorities and other critics, accusing them of violating his civil rights.
He seeks more than $5 million, a refund of his property taxes and other payments.
The developer, Domenico Broccoli, asserted that Fishkill Supervisor Ozzy Albra and four board members (three of whom lost in the Nov. 2 election) engaged in “improper, illegal and unauthorized actions” that violated his constitutional rights. The lawsuit also names 20 unnamed individuals.
Broccoli wants to build Continental Commons — an inn, restaurant, and shopping center along Route 9 on a 10-acre section of the former Fishkill Supply Depot. The Revolutionary War military base sprawled from Fishkill to Beacon and Philipstown and east along a country road, now Route 52.
The Continental Commons parcel contains a gas station, stream, woods and a small cemetery that history buffs suspect contains Revolutionary War dead. Although Broccoli fiercely disagrees, he has promised to preserve it. (In the lawsuit, he complains about the Town Board’s description of the site as the “Veterans Fishkill Supply Depot,” because, he asserts, “the word veteran still implies that the property contains the burials of soldiers.”)
His lawsuit also accuses board members of opposing the development “to pay back their political supporters” and claims their conduct involved a seizure and “invasion” of his property, thwarting his “investment expectations.”
The Friends of the Fishkill Supply (FOFSD), a historical preservation group, environmental advocates and some residents opposed Broccoli’s plans, which for several years progressed slowly but steadily through local review but encountered more resistance after the Town Board in 2020 acquired a Democratic majority (since overturned).
The developer also sued the Town Board in January 2021 in Dutchess County court, after it rejected his application for extension of water and sewer service to his site. That litigation continues. In August, in federal court, he sued FOFSD members; that case also remains unresolved.
In the latest Fishkill lawsuit, his grievances include the Town Board’s unanimous vote in October to tighten the zoning criteria for developments near historic sites and its creation of an aquifer protection zoning overlay, which, he contends, “imposes additional obligations” on him.
The lawsuit acknowledges that three times over the last two years, most recently on Dec. 23, the day before Broccoli went to federal court, he rejected a settlement offer that called for him to donate the graveyard to the town in return for obtaining the water and sewer extensions.
These lawsuits are right out of Trump’s playbook. If developers “investment expectations” are in any way infringed upon or rejected, sue! Then sue some more, until the town or city faces bankruptcy. These lawsuits are all about the towns or cities won’t change the laws for them. P.S.: To the new members of the Town Board, these are not great-paying jobs that are created.
The Fishkill Supply Depot is described in the National Register of Historic Places since 1974 to be an area enclosing about 74 acres or more. The proposed 10-acre Continental Commons complex is completely within the described area. While it is true that Revolutionary War military operations sprawled east from Fishkill Landing (now Beacon) to the village of Fishkill then east along what is now Route 52 and south into Philipstown, the Depot described in the Register surrounds the Commons completely. Depot facilities shown on maps and with operations described in records from the period of the Revolutionary War distinguish the Depot from Fishkill Landing, the village of Fishkill, those elsewhere along Route 52 and those in Philipstown.
The Highlands Current should be more discriminating, objective and precise in its description of the Fishkill Supply Depot at Fishkill, which served the Highlands Department defenses and encampments of the Continental Army from Ramapo to West Point to Fredericksburg and from the Continental Village to Wappingers Falls, west, north, east, south and beyond.
The Town of Fishkill Planning Board denied interested citizens a thorough archeological examination of the potential and recognized manmade structures which remain below grade within the proposed complex. The Fishkill Supply Depot is among the significant Revolutionary War sites of the region, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess and Putnam counties which deserve to be preserved in memorial to those patriots who served and those who died there in service to our country.