Town of Cortlandt Action Causes Amended Lawsuit

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The Town of Cortlandt is in trouble again. When will they learn?

The town was recently slapped with a serious lawsuit by an organization called The Hudson Ridge Wellness Center for imposing a moratorium as a means of improperly blocking a proposed project from moving forward (see previous InsidePEEK post).

Moratoriums can be important and useful if used properly. They is a way for a municipality to investigate and research uses of geographic locations, as is done during the Master Plan process and zoning reconsiderations. Moratoriums are NOT designed to illegally prevent a viable project AFTER the planning process for that project has begun! The Puglisi Administration has an established practice of using moratoriums as a tool to block certain projects and specific developers from exercising their legal right to move forward through the planning process once their project has been proposed. They got away with it for years but times have changed and now people are fighting back and are no longer afraid to challenge Puglisi and her rubber stamp board.

According to the Journal News, The Hudson Ridge Wellness Center has filed an amended lawsuit in response to a recent vote by the Cortlandt Town Board to reaffirm the illegal moratorium they imposed to stop the Hudson Ridge project for Quaker Ridge Road. The $15 million civil rights suit contends that members of the town board “have a long history, dating back to 1987,” of adopting moratoriums to “delay, derail and/or obstruct development projects,” in the Town of Cortlandt. Their research shows that Puglisi and town officials have used this tactic against projects at least 25 times since 1987. That is an absurd number of times and shows the absolute disregard for providing due process to applicants. By stopping so many projects it is no wonder the revenue for the town has plummeted and taxes continue to rise at an alarming rate. Just think of the $ millions in revenue that could have been collected since 1987! Think of the funds that would have been available to maintain the crumbling infrastructure the town now faces.

The town contends that this moratorium is valid since there are some differences regarding the application. Isn’t that what the planning process is for – to negotiate and discuss the aspects of a project and work together to make the project move forward as a benefit to the town? All proposals are a give and take and require careful review to take all concerns into account. Using a moratorium to stop a project in its tracks is not the legal way to approach it. The town should know this by now since they lost a lawsuit by another organization for this very reason. Now, they are going to pay a hefty sum, again, due to their actions.

InsidePEEK will continue to monitor this issue as the lawsuit moves forward.

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Puglisi and Costello Sellout Cortlandt on Pipeline

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We’ve been told she has been doing it for a long time and is very adept at it. She is a master at making certain groups think she is with them when she is really working behind their backs against their interests. This time she got caught and so did her partner on the town board.

Who are we referring to? You guessed it, Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi and her partner in the latest trickery, Debbie Costello. They have skillfully (until now) fooled the public into thinking they were ‘fighting’ the Algonquin Pipeline project in Cortlandt. They joined the anti-pipeline protesters and appeared at all the demonstrations and meetings. They made it look good all right but the whole time they were negotiating with the company behind the scenes to get a payoff. The very thing they and their protester friends have vilified other officials of doing along the pipeline route.

They knew the pipeline project was a ‘done deal’ from the start and merely played politics to protect themselves from criticism in the town. As one of our readers stated in an email, she “played us!”

So why is this coming to light now and why such a focus on it? The two reasons this has become public knowledge is because the Journal News through their “Tax Watch” column recently exposed the double dealing by Puglisi and the town board. The second reason is because Costello is now a candidate for NY State Senate. Her run for higher office will now bring a huge microscope on the Town of Cortlandt government and their record on taxes, spending, and just about everything else. Based on what we have learned so far about Puglisi, she doesn’t like ANY light being shined on her or her true record. She prefers to be the only source of information and that no questions get asked. She is not going to like the next 8-9 months with Costello running and bringing huge focus on the town.

READ JOURNAL NEWS ARTICLE HERE

David McKay Wilson, the reporter behind the Tax Watch column, is not new to reporting on Puglisi and Cortlandt. He was the one who exposed the illegal process used by Puglisi and the Town Board to sell tax foreclosure properties. This was a topic of a previous InsidePEEK post. That post generated a number of email responses to InsidePEEK with some very interesting information and candid comments. Some of which we will use later in this post.

Wilson exposed Puglisi and Costello’s ruse of fighting the pipeline and how they negotiated to obtain $2.8 million from the pipeline company. Sounds good right? Well, the amount just so happens to be the same cost of purchasing the old Con Edison property near the pipeline project. The same area the company is using as its ‘staging area’ for the pipeline equipment and storage of materials for the project. Puglisi and Costello knew all along they would need to relinquish this property. So now, the town owns unusable, very dangerous property. When that happens, as the Journal News points out, the property is removed from the tax rolls, causing the town to lose $132,000 a year in tax revenue! Every year! What the Journal News didn’t take into account is that this property is not safe as it contains a quarry that requires significant liability insurance so the town will most likely see a spike in its insurance costs.

The Journal News did correctly point out that the cost to the town for their faux fight against the pipeline company actually cost the town “more than $300,000” in legal fees. So the taxpayers of Cortlandt are getting a pipeline that was always going to be installed no matter what and are left with huge legal expenses and loss of revenue every year going forward – all to make Puglisi and Costello to look good to the “anti-pipeline activists,” who are mostly not even residents of the town.

Yes, you read that correctly, the anti-pipeline ‘organizers’ and ‘activists’ are mostly anti-fracking, anti-fossil fuel political extremists from outside Cortlandt, the area containing the pipeline and in some cases from outside the state!

Susan Van Dolsen is the main spokesperson for the “Stop the Algonquin Pipeline” group, she lives no where near Cortlandt or the pipeline and is described in a bio of her as a “grassroots organizer who has been involved with the campaign to ban fracking in New York.” She doesn’t care about Cortlandt. She just wants to stir the pot in as many places as possible because that is what she is paid to do. She, and others like her, use people all across the state and country by playing on their fears and exaggerating and outright lying to those close to these projects to try and create anxiety and activism. All for political gain.

Dolsen and her comrades are huge supporters of Democratic officials and candidates only. They protect their friends and attack their opponents – all to try to influence local elections. Dolsen’s comments in the Journal News article show it all too well. She said Puglisi “didn’t really have a choice,” really? We read every day that the pipeline can still be stopped and everyone should keep protesting, get arrested, hold demonstrations, write to officials, etc.  Now, she didn’t have a choice? What if a Republican elected official acted as Puglisi did? They would be viciously and constantly attacked. Called every name in the book and proclaimed anti everything that is mom and apple pie. How do we know this? Because in Yorktown over a year ago they leveled with the public and negotiated a deal with the pipeline company that was hugely revenue positive for the town and will give perpetual benefits going forward.

Then there is Mike Morey. Yes, he is involved too. He is behind Costello’s Senate campaign. He knows the pipeline is only a ‘political’ issue and not a safety concern. Well, he must believe that since he recently moved out of Peekskill to the Town of Cortlandt – just a stone’s throw away from the pipeline project. Yes, that is correct, he wanted out of Peekskill so badly (to keep his kids out of the schools) that he moved right next to the pipeline. More on all of this in future posts.

Puglisi described what she and the Cortlandt Town Board did was “pragmatic” and they were “at the end of the saga.” If Puglisi was truly pragmatic she would have leveled with the residents over a year ago. She knew then that the pipeline project was a fait accompli. This is a Federal Government project. They want it and need it for future energy supply. That is why the federal level elected officials were no where is sight on this issue. Schumer and Lowey love protests and press conferences. Schumer especially since he has at least one a week. This issue should have been made to order for them. They knew the fix was in and this project was going forward no matter what. Puglisi and Costello knew it too.

Now the town has an even worse revenue problem thanks to the political games of Cortlandt’s elected town board. A former town employee wrote to InsidePEEK saying that “…Linda is good at bamboozling the residents of the town, if they only knew how much.” Another Cortlandt resident wrote; “I am not surprised at any of this. Our taxes keep going up and the services we get go down.” Still another resident wrote, “The roads in the town are horrible and the taxes keep going up with no end in sight.”

Our post about Debbie Costello’s run for State Senate drew a multitude of reaction from across the area. One particular response was particularly impassioned, “Debbie has not been a good representative for our town so how can she even think about running for higher office? The email went on to say “…she had a trust problem with many people in the town, especially in the tri-village area before she got elected, it is much worse now. I’m sure Linda is not happy Debbie is running this year.”

InsidePEEK thanks everyone who has been writing in with their views, suggestions and insights. We at InsidePEEK knew something like our blog was needed but had no idea how well received it would be. Keep the feedback coming and remember that all communication and information is kept strictly confidential.

Town of Cortlandt Faces Another Lawsuit

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Cortlandt Town Board (L-R): Francis Farrell, Seth Freach, Supervisor Linda Puglisi, Debra Costello, and Richard Becker.

The Cortlandt Town Board has found itself sued, again, by a group looking to move forward with a project in the town. This time the $15 million discrimination suit hinges on a moratorium that is meant to prevent the Hudson Ridge Wellness Center from opening at the former Hudson Institute property on Quaker Ridge Road.

Once again Supervisor Puglisi and her rubber stamp board are in hot water from instituting a moratorium, their favorite tool to stop projects and the people proposing them they don’t like. The moratoriums always seem to come AFTER the project is proposed, which is a legal no-no. You would think they would be wary of continuing to use this tactic since they lost a similar suit just last year. According to the Journal News, there are also emails from Puglisi to local activists showing the intent to stop the project.

Read the entire Journal News article at their LoHud online site:

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/westchester/cortlandt/2015/12/30/hudson-ridge-cortlandt-lawsuit/78073612/

This lawsuit comes soon after the town lost its appeal to a suit successful against them from May 2013 in the NYS Supreme Court. The appeal failed in the NYS Appellate Division on October 21, 2015.

Green Materials of Westchester brought this action against the town when the Zoning Board acted on an amendment to the Town Code to deny the company to operate. There was also a moratorium imposed by the Town Board specifically intended to prevent the business from moving forward with the proposed activity. Actions by the various town officials was deemed “arbitrary and capricious” in the eyes of the law. The Cortlandt ZBA also independently determined and claimed the company intended to conduct activities that were not stated in their application. Basically, they made up stuff as to find a way to deny the application. The accusations by the board were found by the court to be “…nothing more than baseless rumor and suspicion.”

Green Materials Appellate-cover

Click on page to see entire document

InsidePEEK will continue to follow the developments of these actions and bring them to our readers.

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