On December 19, 2012 Friends of Pittsford Village, Inc. filed an Article 78 Petition in NY State Supreme Court. We retained Alan Knauf, a prominent land use and environmental attorney. This petition formally challenges two votes by the Pittsford Village Board of Trustees on 75 Monroe Ave:
- The Environmental Review (SEQR)
- The Special Use Permit authorizing the land to be used for 167 Apartments.
WHY ARE WE CHALLENGING THIS DECISION IN COURT?
- During our petition drive, we found that over 80% of Village residents we spoke with oppose the proposed development at 75 Monroe. The scale of the development is incompatible with the Village, a violation of R-5 zoning code and the Village’s Comprehensive plan.
- The majority of the Village board members dismissed residents’ concerns about traffic, size, noise and compatibility with the Village.
- Numerous aspects of the review process were found to be illegal according to our attorney. The failures in the review process being outlined in this case will not only affect this project, but all future significant developments.
- The conduct of the Board of Trustees has frustrated citizens. The Village board rescheduled critical meetings, including the final vote, with only a few hours notice. In addition, the majority of Trustees meetings discussing this project were held during business hours when the public could not attend. No effort was made to notify residents of the details of this project, the largest development since the Erie Canal. The last Village newsletter was mailed in the Spring of 2011.
- The Trustees illegally reviewed critical information in private meetings in executive session to hide this information from the public. Financial information was clearly prominently discussed in these meetings as the developer argued they could not reduce the size of the development and make a reasonable profit. The tax credits the developer will receive for the cleanup of the site were not considered as part of the financial details and are expected to exceed $2 Million.
- The Trustees violated the Open Meetings Law by filing to give adequate notice of meetings to the public, by illegally holding meetings in private (Executive Session), by failing to post meeting minutes in a timely manner, and by not updating their web site.
- The developer failed to meet standards for the Special Use Permit. Traffic, safety, compatibility with the Village (scale, massing, architectural design), are all serious issues that were dismissed.
- 75 Monroe is a Brownfield site that is the former location of Monoco Oil and is contaminated with petroleum. A cleanup plan was never developed as part of the environmental review and it was never shown that the outcome of the cleanup would be safe for the intended use (apartments).
- The environmental review was inadequate; a full environmental impact study should have been performed. The Board never took a hard look at contamination from the former Monoco Oil site. Traffic issues are another serious concern that were never shown to be solved by the recommended traffic calming measures.
- The Special Use Permit was improperly filed with Monroe County.