By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — The town has filed an appeal of the state Supreme Court decision essentially ordering the planning/zoning board of appeals to approve the special-use permit and site plan applications for Long Energy.
With a change in the town’s administration beginning Jan. 1, it is unclear what the future of the appeal will be.
The company is seeking to build a fuel storage facility in the town.
Long Energy has been seeking approval to erect two 30,000-gallon propane tanks and a pole barn in a fenced storage yard on Route 9W and County Route 101. The site, owned by Long Energy, is in a C-1P planned commercial zoning district.
The planning board failed to approve the company’s site plan application and special-use permit in April after a drawn-out process. Three planning board members voted in favor of the special-use permit and site plan — acting chair Patricia Grogan, Nathan Boomer and Melissa Stanton. Three members opposed the motions — James Pietropaoli, Bernard teRiele and Joseph Cinque. With a tie vote, the board’s attorney said the vote was a “non-approval.”
Planning board chairman Robert Nolan, who owns a competing fuel company, and planning board member Albert Collins recused themselves from the decision.
Long Energy, operating under the name Marebo, LLC, filed an Article 78 — a legal motion to compel a municipality to take a specific action — and State Supreme Court Justice Justin Corcoran issued a decision in Long Energy’s favor Nov. 27.
The town filed an appeal of the decision Dec. 1, with the state’s Appellate Division.
“Given this matter is pending, the town has no official comment for the record,” Town Supervisor George McHugh said.
McHugh and two council members of the current administration — Brandon LeFevre and Marisa Tutay — did not win re-election in November and will be replaced by incoming Democrats Town Supervisor-elect Stephen Donnelly and Town Councilmen-elect Michael Stott and Ronald Hotaling, who will take office Jan. 1.
It is unclear at this time whether the new administration will continue with the appeal or withdraw it. Donnelly could not be reached for comment at press time.
Corcoran’s original decision ordered the planning board “to promptly grant the applications of Marebo, LLC for a special use permit and site plan approval, subject to imposition of reasonable conditions.”
The court did not specify what “reasonable conditions” could be required by the planning board.
The court’s decision ordered that Nolan and Cinque “shall not participate in such further proceedings due to conflicts of interest.” Cinque was appointed to the planning board on Nolan’s recommendation, according to the court’s decision.
“Nolan oversaw the planning board’s advisory recommendation of Cinque, the alternate member whose first anticipated official act was to substitute for Nolan and Collins in considering the Marebo matter,” according to the court’s decision.
The court also ordered the dismissal of “claims against [Robert Nolan] in his personal capacity is granted without costs.” Sanctions against Nolan were denied by the court.
“Robert Nolan was completely exonerated, and the case dismissed against him in his personal capacity,” said Nolan’s attorney, William Hurst of law firm Young/Sommer LLC.
Long Energy general counsel Beth Carey said an appeal would be costly for taxpayers.
“It’s such a well-written and well-thought-out decision with specific examples that it is clear to us that the judge took the time to review everything,” Carey said. “In my opinion, for the town to appeal it with such a strongly written decision, to me it would seem like a waste of taxpayers’ dollars to move forward with an appeal.”
If the court’s decision stands, Long Energy owner Robert Long said it is unclear when construction on the project would begin and anticipated that it would take around four to six months to complete once work commences.