Yesterday – October 9, 2018 – CUPON-Hillcrest received the Rockland County Supreme Court Decision, dated September 29, 2018, ruling that the article 78 civil lawsuit filed in April 2018 against the Bluefield Extension Zoning Board decisions can proceed. 2018-09-29 Eisenpress Decision on Motions to Dismiss
The Town and Owner Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss the lawsuit – filed in reply in May – were thoroughly rejected by this Court’s decision.
The court ruled that:
- With respect to Standing: both Sharon Doucette and the CUPON-Hillcrest organization have legal standing in this matter. Contrary to Bluefield lawyer assertions, CUPON meets the three legal tests necessary for Organizational Standing in a Declaratory Judgment/Article 78 proceeding;
- With respect to Statute of Limitations: this lawsuit is not outside the Statute of Limitations for the two ZBA decisions being challenged.
- With respect to Laches*: the court dismissed the applicant’s claim that the delay in contesting the 2014 Use Variance decision was negligent on the part of the Petitioners for all the reasons stated in the Petition-Complaint and in the reply to the Motion to Dismiss.
- With respect to Prior Owners as Necessary Parties: the prior owners tried to weasel out of being involved with this lawsuit by claiming they had little to do with the 2014 GML decision or the 2018 ZBA actions. The Judge disagreed and ruled against them on this also. The court recognized that since the 2014 Use Decision was being challenged, AND that the judge was allowing that challenge to continue, the Prior Owner Defendants were involved.
- With respect to the argument that the Plaintiffs/Petitioners failed to exhaust administrative remedies: the judge agreed with the Plaintiffs/Petitioners that this was impossible to determine this claim until the record for the decisions had been submitted.(*) Laches is a legal term that precludes a lawsuit when a petitioner allows too much time to pass without making a claim that causes a prejudice to the adverse party. The Defendants assertion that the action must be dismissed on the ground of !aches. They argue that it has been four years after the approval of the variance and two years after the properties were acquired, before Petitioners (CUPON) instituted the proceeding.In opposition, Plaintiffs (CUPON) argue that the Defendants have “unclean hands” and are thus not entitled to equitable relief. Specifically, they note that any person reading the 2014 Decision would have every reason to believe that there was in fact a GML referral and review by the County, and would not presume deceit. Additionally, Plaintiffs (CUPON-Hillcrest) argue that the issues raised in the present action were steadfastly raised in the ongoing proceedings before the Town both before and after the Bluefield Defendants purchased the Property, thus putting them on notice regarding this issue.
Micheal Miller, president of CUPON-Hillcrest responded to this decision today:
“While this is not the final legal verdict for CUPON-Hillcrest’s lawsuit against the Bluefield Extension project, CUPON-Hillcrest is very pleased with this decision. Judge Eisenpress clearly read through the petition and the reply papers and recognized that CUPON-Hillcrest claims are worthy of judicial review. The Defendants threw out some fairly specious arguments in a somewhat haphazard attempt to suppress this lawsuit. The Defendants will be hard pressed to defend what CUPON-Hillcrest believes is fairly an indefensible position.”
CUPON-Hillcrest wants to thank CUPON-Hillcrest volunteer and Steering Committee member, Deborah Munitz for being so generous with her time in working on a volunteer basis with the CUPON-Hillcrest attorneys, Melanie Golden and Susan Shapiro of Rockland Environmental Group LLC on these matters. CUPON-Hillcrest and other CUPON groups owe our success to our volunteers of Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhoods.