Fishkill Approves Developer’s Request

Continental Commons

A rendering of the north end of the proposed Continental Commons development, with the hotel at left, a visitors' center at center and the existing Safeway gas station at right.

Water/sewer district will be expanded for themed hotel, shops

Following a court ruling, the Fishkill Town Board on Wednesday (Oct. 5) approved extending a water and sewer district to include a planned shopping and hotel complex on a Revolutionary War site on Route 9.

The board voted, 3-1, to reject a proposal to appeal the ruling, and then voted, 3-0, with a member abstaining, to extend the district to the property. Supervisor Ozzy Albra, who has opposed the project, did not vote.

The board acknowledged that the judge’s decision was binding but also pointed out that the town must approve any mains and pipes that are installed. 

Domenic Broccoli, the developer, intends to construct a complex on the 10.5-acre site that he calls Continental Commons, with an inn, shops, restaurants and museum designed to replicate a colonial village. The land lies across Route 9 from the Dutchess Mall and across Snook Road from the Van Wyck Homestead, which served as a headquarters for the Continental Army.

Although Broccoli’s plans call for drawing water from Fishkill, sewage and wastewater would be treated by Beacon’s plant.

The contested land was once part of the sprawling Fishkill Supply Depot, which Gen. George Washington established as a military base that stretched from northern Philipstown to the Village of Fishkill and present-day Beacon. It includes a cemetery that critics say may contain Revolutionary War dead. While promising to protect the graves, Broccoli maintains that the military burial ground lies some miles northeast.

In a Sept. 26 statement, Broccoli praised the judge’s ruling, saying the Town Board’s 2020 denial of his request had been part of “an ongoing scheme to ‘strangle’ and ‘bleed’ ” him financially.

On Tuesday, the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot, a nonprofit historical preservation group that has led opposition to Continental Commons, continued its objections, saying that Fishkill has a surplus of unused commercial space. “Why destroy a critically important and unique archaeological site to create even more?” it asked. 

After Wednesday’s votes, the FOFSD charged that Town Board members who allowed the water and sewer extensions “sold out the people of Fishkill and disrespected the soldiers who are laid to rest at the Fishkill Supply Depot.” Although the developer “has won his case,” it said, “we feel that we have won our case in the court of public opinion.”

When it rejected Broccoli’s applications two years ago, the Town Board questioned his plan to use existing pipes and determined it was not in the public interest to approve the extensions because neither water nor sewer hook-ups had been approved by the Dutchess County Department of Health. 

In her Sept. 19 ruling, the state judge said that although the case file “is rife with public opposition to the project in general, there is no evidence that approval of the water and sewer extensions would be contrary to the public interest.” She also noted that town approval of the extensions only grants a right to utilize the water and sewer districts and that connections could not be made without county approval.

7 thoughts on “Fishkill Approves Developer’s Request

  1. This is a horrible plan. They are destroying and paving over natural landscape (and a Revolutionary War site) only to make money, while the nearly vacant, already paved-over Dutchess Mall is right across Route 9. [via Instagram]

  2. Route 9 is developed in the least thoughtful way. No one wants strip malls in their community, and no one wants redundant shopping centers. [via Instagram]

  3. You reported that the Town Board “pointed out [in its resolution] that the town must approve any mains and pipes that are installed.”

    However, last month a state court judge ruled that the Town Board does not have the “absolute discretion” to deny water and sewer to the Continental Commons property. The judge’s decision reaffirmed that it was the Dutchess County Department of Health that would review the application to connect a site’s infrastructure to those water and sewer districts. In this case, the infrastructure was built to service the existing Speedway gas station, as well as for future development.

    Unfortunately, the campaign by the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot (FOFSD) to derail Continental Commons has relied on the supervisor (a close ally) and unwitting media to distribute misinformation about the Fishkill Supply Depot, the Continental Commons property and the project.

    As for the cemetery said to be on the site, the New York State Historic Preservation Office informed the town in 2015 that there was no evidence that the property contains burials that are connected to the Revolutionary War. Based on more than a dozen archaeological studies, the site has a small burial plot with unknown origins.

    The FOFSD also ignored the fact that engineers and archaeologists from the town, county and state concluded that the project would not have an environmental or historical impact. As part of a five-year state environmental review, these experts concluded that the archaeology has been exhausted. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) even commended Continental Commons for its preservation plan, which includes a visitor center, living museum and historic walking trails.

    As part of our preservation plan we agreed with SHPO’s recommendation to have archaeological monitoring during construction, even though the agency acknowledged that it was not likely anything would be found. A state judge ruled against the FOFSD’s challenge of the environmental review and the preservation plan in 2019.

    Lane is a representative of the Continental Commons project.

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