Lawyers for the developers of the former Reader’s Digest property and for the town of New Castle met in federal court in White Plains Wednesday to argue over whether Supervisor Barbara Gerrard and two Town Board members should be named in the lawsuit along with the town.
The developers of what is now called Chappaqua Crossing, Summit Development and Greenfield Partners, sued the town in state and federal court in February accusing the Town Board of engaging in a “sham approval process” designed to keep the property from being developed.
The town’s lawyers have asked for the case to be dismissed against Gerrard and council members Robin Stout and Michael Wolfensohn arguing that the case is rightly against the municipality and that the claims were made against them “merely to harass and burden the public officials.”
“It matters to them personally,” said John Walsh, the town’s lawyer.
But Summit/Greenfield’s lawyer, David Hennes, argued he is already having trouble getting emails from the officials’ private email accounts and said discovery would be made more difficult if their names were taken off the case. He also said having them named serves public accountability.
“This case goes to the heart of the composition of the town of New Castle,” he said.
Judge Kenneth Karas questioned why it really mattered.
“Why are we going to spend time on whether they should be jettisoned form the case or not?” he asked.
But he agreed to the lawyers request to put their arguments in writing over the next several weeks and said he would issue a decision.
Also Wednesday, the New Castle Town Board amended its approvals for the Chappaqua Crossing project to require county approval for the expansion of the sewer district before a building permit is issued rather than before site development plan approval. The change is intended to address the concern that the county won’t act unless site plan approval is in place.