Government

Granite Point Lawsuit Dismissed

f2965954d13616185f9e_31599.JPG
The site of the proposed Granite Pointe luxury-home development on the banks of the Amawalk Reservoir, as viewed from Route 202. Credits: File Photo/Brian Marschhauser
f2965954d13616185f9e_31599.JPG

SOMERS, N.Y. - A State Supreme Court justice has dismissed a last-ditch effort to block construction of 23 luxury homes only steps from the Amawalk Reservoir in Granite Springs. 

Throwing out a legal challenge to Somers’ tentative approval last year of the controversial development, Justice Gretchen Walsh said the subdivision’s opponents had lacked the requisite legal standing when they sued the Planning Board and developer John Harkins.

While the challengers, largely Granite Springs residents, warned broadly of potential harm to an important water source, Walsh said they “failed to factually demonstrate a specific, actual and concrete injury from which standing would flow.” The Amawalk Reservoir provides drinking water for New York City and more than 11,000 homes in Somers and Yorktown.

Sign Up for E-News

Barring an appeal, which remains possible until at least late this month, Harkins must now decide whether to proceed with plans to build Granite Pointe or sell the site to another builder.

Either way, the developer of this 28.8-acre forest will have to address a long list of Planning Board concerns, including a major cleanup of lead contamination, before any homebuilding can begin. The lead in the soil, a toxic reminder of the site’s long-ago use as a rifle range, is scheduled to be remediated in a state-supervised Brownfield cleanup.

For Harkins, the court decision appears to end more than two decades of futility in trying to develop his forested promontory off Route 118.

First proposed as a housing site in 1987, years before Harkins acquired the land, the picturesque property has faced development hurdles almost from the start. The barriers have included environmental lawsuits in 1990 and last year, discovery in 2004 of the massive lead contamination and implacable opposition over the years by many of its Granite Springs neighbors.

But a year ago this month, following a summer-long series of contentious public hearings, the Planning Board gave Harkins that heavily conditioned final subdivision approval.

In November, Gwynne Drive residents Marc Houslanger, his wife, Diane, and fellow opponents sued the Planning Board under the Environmental and Community Advocates (ECA) banner. They petitioned in an Article 78 proceeding for a judicial review of the subdivision OK, maintaining that the board had green-lighted Granite Pointe without adequately considering the serious environmental threat it posed to the reservoir.

Marc Houslanger did not respond to an email request for additional comment.

For its part, the Planning Board had conditioned its approval on the completion of a laundry list of fixes, most of them environmental, including a state-supervised Brownfield cleanup of the lead contamination.

Before any homes can be built, the Planning Board made clear, the lead and a dozen pages of additional concerns must be addressed. Harkins’ Suelain Realty can either do that work itself or sell the property to a developer.

The critics’ challenge to the Planning Board’s conditional final approval of the subdivision last October came in a so-called “Article 78 proceeding.” A judicial review of an administrative action like the Planning Board’s, it’s named for the section of state law governing its application.

In her 21-page decision, Walsh said the project’s critics relied “on a number of different legal theories” to establish legal standing and support their contention that scrutiny under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) had been insufficiently rigorous.

“Specifically,” she said, “petitioners allege that the Planning Board: (1) unfairly and negligently granted the approval for the subdivision, lacking the due diligence required by SEQRA in not considering the negative impact on the densely forested peninsula of Amawalk Reservoir; (2) failed to consider the drinking water supply in the C-3 District; and (3) failed to take a ‘hard look’ in accordance with SEQRA’s requirements.”

The project’s critics also maintained that the subdivision’s approval “threatens to destroy the scenic vista enjoyed on a daily basis by all of us residing near Granite Pointe.”

In rejecting the Environmental and Community Advocates petition, Walsh ruled that “ECA has not demonstrated standing to maintain this proceeding.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Somers

'We'll Have Meals Together'

A few days ago, I watched a rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” In this particular episode, brothers Raymond and Robert went head to head over who would take care of their mother, Marie, during her later years (anticipating that father, Frank, would predecease her).

It brought back the decision Jack, Roe and I were faced with years ago regarding our mom. She was in her 80s, lived ...

Weather or Not

Feb. 2 has come and gone and once again, we have foolishly entrusted a large rodent with six weeks worth of weather forecasting. This year they had a whole entourage of guys who wanted to cram into the Groundhog Day action, but there’s one head groundhog aficionado who’s in charge when they open up Punxsutawney Phil’s cage. Both man and beast are dressed to the nines, one in a ...

The Night They Raided Spruce Street

It was the day of the Finch Ball. Jason had been away on business, but was expected home in time for us to attend that evening. 

I had graduated from Finch College two years earlier and was now married and expecting my second child. We lived in a one-bedroom garden apartment in Yonkers. It was a close community where everyone was young, friendly and just starting out. Each town house was ...

Taking Baby Steps

 

OK, we’re a month into the New Year and not only have I NOT lost weight, but I’ve put back on the three pounds I lost four weeks ago! Many people would be discouraged and throw in the towel at this point, but I would encourage you to reboot your program and start again, every morning if necessary. Losing weight, saving money or getting organized are about mindset.

First, ...

Should Valentine's Day Be Celebrated at School?

Dear Dr. Linda,

I’ve been a third-grade teacher for over 20 years and have never allowed my students to celebrate Valentine’s Day in my class. I know my colleagues think I’m mean, but I’m refusing to celebrate it for many reasons.

1) Children hand out cards to each other and there’s always some child left out or who gets very few; 2) Children are always asked ...

A Trip to the 'Liberry'

Raise your hand if you didn’t—did not—call the library the “liberry” when you were little. I’m guessing not a lot of hands just went up.

Didn’t just about all of us say “liberry” when we were learning to read? (Well, whaddya expect when a place is named something way too easy for little kids to mispronounce?)

OK. Now, raise your hand if ...

I'm Mrs. Heat Miser

To be perfectly honest, I did not need a large rodent with insomnia to convince me that we had six more weeks of winter. It’s been so cold outside lately that when I go out, my nostrils stick together. The dog is so hesitant to go out that he does his business right on the deck, less than five feet from the door, and then gives me a look of contemptuous indignation when he comes back in the ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, February 24, 10:00 AM

Jefferson Valley Mall , Yorktown Heights

Yorktown Indoor Farmers Market

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Mon, February 26, 7:00 PM

Westchester Collaborative Theater, Ossining

WCT Scene/Monologue Study Open For Enrollment Now

Arts & Entertainment Education Other

Mon, February 26, 7:00 PM

Westchester Collaborative Theater, Ossining

WCT Scene/Monologue Study Open For Enrollment Now

Arts & Entertainment Education Other

The Somers Record Shines a Light on 'Great' Community

February 9, 2018

To the editor,

How amazing to see my sister-in-law, Kim Maguire, on the cover of the Record!

We read our paper religiously! Last week, we saw our daughters' picture as volunteers at the Chili Cookoff! This is such a tight-knit community and having articles like the one done for Kim highlight some of the great people and servicemen and women who make this town so special. The writer who ...

Cuba Goes Country

February 16, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RELEASE: “Cuba Goes County” to be held at The Palmer in Cuba, NY.

For more information or to schedule and interview, contact Theater Manager Michele Conklin at (585) 209-5512.

The Palmer Opera House is hosting “Cuba Goes Country” on Sunday March 11th- at 2:00 PM

Come join us for a boot stompin', toe tappin' afternoon of country ...

'Are You Friggin' Kidding Me?'

February 15, 2018

Faye M. DeSanto

Guest Columnist

I never watched the hit TV Show “Mad Men.” My best friend, who rarely watches TV, recommended it to me when it was gaining its first good reviews. I said, “I lived through that time period. I can see no good coming from reminding men about that sexist era.” Little did I know how right I was.

My husband drooled over the short-lived ...