I agree with Tina that citizens must pay close attention to their public officials and that robust, public, fact-based discussion generally leads to best outcomes.
Ruth consulted the Corporation Counsel on recusal. She was advised that she need not recuse, but should disclose the relationship between C.H.O.P. and Renaissance, which is informal and does not involve exchange of funds. Jan Peek will not be, and never was considering, sharing the Corporate Drive building with Renaissance. C.H.O.P.’s only relationship with Mr. Miller, the former owner of 3 Corporate Drive, is that he is the owner of the building in which C.H.O.P. rents one floor, at market rates. Appearance is a factor to consider, but as in many legal issues, one must look at the situation from the point of view of a rational and prudent person would do/think. I imagine the corporation counsel looked at all the facts and decided no rational and prudent person would think there was a conflict.
The skateboard park is in a separate industrial park on the other side of Highland Ave, not “right next door.”
What definition there is for ‘professional office” can certainly include medical offices. According to the search engine provided with the code on the city website, the word “medical” appears nowhere in the code. The code draws no line between medical office and clinic. Professional offices are permitted in the C2 and C3 commercial districts as well as the M1, 2, 2A, and 3 industrial districts. Given the lack of clear definitions in the code, one could argue that Hudson River Health Care, and possibly all private medical practices have no more or less right to be located in Peekskill than the methadone clinic. As I understand it, the fundamental disagreement between the corporation counsel and the mayor’s attorney is how to interpret this aspect of the code. That is why I expressed the hope that the mayor will take this issue to court, which is the appropriate place to settle such disagreements.
It’s too bad that disagreements with the EAF were not forwarded to the Planning Commission and the Planning Department during the public comment period, which did not end until 10 Oct. It may still be useful to send any thoughts on this aspect of the application to Mayor Foster and the Common Counsel. I urge Tina to do so.
As I stated, the one thing I think we can all agree on is that the best possible scenario is the clinic staying in their little building on the hospital campus (which, by the way, is in Cortlandt, adjacent to a veterinarian practice and very near a nice residential neighborhood). Unfortunately, that seems not to be an option, as the hospital’s spokesman has made quite clear (“The Journal News,” 24 July, page 7A).
Ruth received legal guidance that commission members can be liable for “punitive damages” if they overturned their original decision in the face of the corporation counsel’s opinion that the clinic was an as of right use. Our city’s insurance does not cover punitive damages against city officers.
My Patch profile has always stated that I sit on Peekskill’s Zoning Board of Appeals. This matter never appeared before the ZBA, and is highly unlikely ever to appear before us, as the ZBA’s jurisdiction is quite narrowly defined (see my August post http://peekskill.patch.com/blog_posts/get-the-facts-before-you-complain for a more detailed discussion of the ZBA’s powers and duties).
I'm thinking that it's time to let the courts look at this and decide which lawyers are correct. I assume, and certainly hope, that the city will soon file an Article 78, which is an inexpensive way to pursue an appeal of the Planning Commission's decision. It seems like the only way to get some clarity on this difficult and controversial issue.