Schenectady County

Ruling lets Stanford Crossings proceed

A ruling blocking the controversial Stanford Crossings project was reversed Friday, paving the way f
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A ruling blocking the controversial Stanford Crossings project was reversed Friday, paving the way for the project to go forward.

The Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously against activists who hoped to delay and stop the crossings project and preserve the old Stanford Mansion in its current state.

At issue was whether the proposed site for the Stanford Crossings strip mall and the site of the new Ingersoll home — currently under construction a mile away on Consaul Road — should have been considered together for environmental impacts.

The court Friday found that the crossings project and the new Ingersoll home being completed on Consaul Road were separate projects for environmental review, not linked.

The lower court found the opposite, setting the approval process back months.

The ruling now reinstates a special use permit that had been on hold pending the appeal. The preservationists now must convince the Court of Appeals to even hear a further appeal, something that’s not automatic. If granted, the process would be again on hold.

Lou Lecce, attorney for developer John Roth and Highbridge Development, said “It was the proper decision.” He stated later, “We could start construction immediately.”

He noted, however, he had yet to talk to his client to see when it would go forward.

Friends of the Stanford Home, the group dedicated to saving the old Ingersoll site from commercial development, won the first ruling when a state Supreme Court judge sided with them in September and froze the Stanford Crossings project until a town approval process was corrected.

Linda Champagne, who has led the group, said they plan to ask the Court of Appeals to hear the case.

“I think they’re wrong,” she said of the ruling when told by a reporter. “The law in this case that Judge (Joseph) Sise decided upon was valid. It’s worth an attempt to get it into the appeals court.”

The site at 3359 Consaul Road is to be home to a new 74-bed, $11 million facility. It is nearing completion, with the Ingersoll Home expected to take possession soon. Its construction was not affected by the ruling that stopped the Stanford project.

The town had been part of the appeal, seeking the reversal, until shortly before arguments were heard.

That’s when Town Supervisor Joe Landry and the town board voted to remove the town from the appeal, leaving only the developers to argue for reversal.

Landry said Friday the town was reviewing the decision to determine any possible response. Landry has said he agreed with the lower court’s ruling.

“We haven’t made any decisions,” he said. “We’re looking at all our options.”

But former Town Supervisor Luke Smith said Friday he saw the ruling as a proving the board’s vote to go ahead with the project and grant the permit to be correct.

“We’ve been vindicated,” Smith said.

Highbridge Development is buying the property for $3.5 million from the Ingersoll Home.

Sise cited the January 2005 real estate contract that showed the home could not purchase the new site without selling the old site in finding them “complementary components of the same project.”

The Appellate Division, however, found that the contract itself did not create the required relationships under environmental review standards.

“In short,” the Appellate Division ruled, “the contractual link between these otherwise independent actions is not sufficient to establish that they are part of an overall plan of development that would require cumulative review.”

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