TOWN OF FISHKILL – A lawsuit filed by Hudson View Park Company (Hudson View) regarding the proposed Rolling Hills development on Route 9D has been dismissed. Hudson View sought $1.2 million in damages they say the town caused. The lawsuit was filed in July of 2020.
Hudson View claimed a breach of contract concerning a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the prior town board that required the town to review a proposed zoning amendment for the development. The amendment would have changed the zoning classification of one of the parcels in the proposed development that would have built thirty buildings with more than 400 apartments in total.
In April of 2020 the town board, led by newly elected Supervisor Azem “Ozzy” Alba declined to further consider the zoning amendment. Albra had campaigned on stopping the proposed project. After taking office, Albra argued that the consideration of a zoning amendment is discretionary, and the board agreed. When the suit was filed against the town, Fishkill’s attorneys argued that the agreement signed by the previous town board unlawfully bound future town boards on matters of “legislative discretion”.
In a decision issued on January 4, 2021, Supreme Court Justice Christi Acker dismissed the case, saying that the Memorandum of Agreement was void, violated the Term Limits Rule which prohibits a municipal board from binding a future board on legislative matters, and constituted illegal contract zoning.
“I am pleased that the Court has confirmed that the Town Board’s actions were entirely proper in this case. I have previously made it clear that the Town of Fishkill will not allow developers to dictate to the Town how it will operate,” said Albra.
Councilman Ori Brachfeld was a member of the town board that signed the original agreement and is still serving on the council. ‘I am satisfied with Judge Acker’s dismissal of the $1.2 million lawsuit against the town for a supposed breach of contract.” Brachfeld had voted in favor of the original agreement, noting that the non-binding aspect of the agreement was the only way the town was able to obtain all of the information needed to make an informed decision on the entire project. “No town board should be held responsible for a non-binding agreement entered into by their predecessors.”
Fishkill Town Attorney Brian Nugent indicated that the ruling will have an impact on towns throughout the state. “This decision is a complete victory for the Town of Fishkill and similarly situated municipalities. The Fishkill Town Board stood strong and refused to have a developer-driven agreement forced upon the Town and its residents.”