Assistant Attorney General Loretta Simon, representing the APA, had also argued that the farm was ineligible for an award because its owners had the ability to pay the legal fees themselves. Meyer, however, called that assertion "irrelevant" because the applicable law makes no mention of the prevailing party's financial well-being.
Meyer denied awarding the full amount sought by Lewis Family Farm, and ordered a Feb. 26 hearing to determine which of its expenses are eligible for reimbursement. The state has challenged more than $87,000 of the $208,000 requested.
"We're pleased with the decision," said Lewis, "It's been a long time coming, but it's just another step in the phase of this thing."
Lewis called Meyer's decision "very strong and exceedingly well-written," but noted how the state will have the opportunity to appeal both the Feb. 3 decision and whatever determination is made regarding the amount of the award.
APA Spokesman Keith McKeever said the agency is "dissapointed" with the decision and is reviewing it.
John. J. Privitera, council for Lewis Family Farm, called the decision "a victory for the Lewis Farm, farmers in the Champlain Valley and all small businesses in New York."
"It's good for the community because it sends a clear message," Lewis added.