Group files amended petition in Bosque lawsuit

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

A local grassroots group has filed an amended petition in its Article 78 lawsuit against the Durham Town Council. File photo

DURHAM — A local grassroots group filed an amended petition in its Article 78 lawsuit against the town board and the Bosque Development project.

The amended petition was filed by Cornwallville Residents for Rural Preservation on April 15.

An Article 78 proceeding is a legal challenge asking the court to repeal the decision of a governmental agency.

The grassroots group is asking the court to vacate the town board’s decision in the fall to issue a Negative Declaration of Significance determination for the project under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.  

The board in late August and early October conducted the SEQRA review of the project over the course of two lengthy meetings and in October determined the development would have no impact or no significant impact on the surrounding community.

That decision spurred the grassroots group to file the Article 78 in court.

The Bosque housing development would build 12 high-end homes and a community barn in the Cornwallville Historic District. The property includes 95 acres, with two currently vacant plots proposed to be subdivided to make a total of 13 lots for the siting of the 12 homes and the barn.

The project has generated substantial opposition from the local community with critics raising concerns about changing the character of the community, along with the project’s impact on traffic, water supply, lighting and other issues.

The amended petition was filed to include steps the town board has taken since issuing the negative declaration in the fall, including the approval of the preliminary plat and the town council’s decision to not reappoint Durham Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Patrick Ciccone, according to Margaret Doherty, one of the Article 78 petitioners.

The town board granted preliminary approval to Bosque’s plans in a 31-page resolution at its April 5 meeting.

Ciccone was not reappointed to his post earlier this year and said in March he believes the decision was directly tied to a letter from the historic group finding that the development would have significant impacts on the town’s historic district. In the wake of that town board decision, three of the historic commission’s remaining members — Ellen Fried, Rosemary O’Brien and Ken Mabey — resigned en masse in protest, leaving two members remaining on the commission.

Town attorney Tal Rappleyea confirmed at the board’s April 19 meeting that the town had received the amended petition, but said he could not comment on ongoing litigation.

“We did receive an amended petition in the lawsuit brought by the opponents to the Bosque subdivision and site plan,” Rappleyea said. “Obviously, we won’t walk about that in public. It’s just something we can’t comment on for litigation.”

 Members of the group Cornwallville Residents for Rural Preservation own approximately 30 properties within the Cornwallville Historic District, with 12 of the properties directly adjoining the Bosque development site and several others in close proximity to the project, according to the group’s petition.

“CRRP members will be adversely impacted by the visual, noise and traffic impacts during the extended construction period and long-term residential use of the Bosque Development property,” according to the petition. “Moreover, they will be impacted because of the changes to the community character and degradation of the rural nature of the Cornwallville Historic District.”

The project was first proposed by Bosque Development in November 2020 and has been under review since that time.

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