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Stewart's site preparation begins despite judge's warning

Paul Gilchrist, President of the Warrensburgh Historical Society and leader of the citizens' group, said Stewart's was ignoring the judge's advice by felling a 100-year-old cherry tree and beginning the excavation on Monday.

"By going ahead while the matter's still in court, Stewart's seems to be showing disregard for the legal procedure of the lawsuit," he said.

Contacted Monday, Tom Lewis of the real estate division of Stewart's said the construction timetable wasn't his direct responsibility, and that inquiries should be directed to the firm's lawyer, Jon Lapper. But Lapper said Tuesday that Stewart's simply made a tactical decision to move forward with the construction, and he wouldn't comment on it - but that questions about whether it was in conflict with the judge's advice should be addressed to Lewis.

The pending citizens' lawsuit, among its many claims, challenged whether the zoning and environmental review involved segmentation, whether the town board was engaged in "spot zoning," and whether the board bypassed required criteria on a SEQR review. The judge's decision on the injunction rejected the claims of segmentation and spot zoning, and a claim that irreparable harm would occur by the development - but Krogmann did cite the potential of irreparable harm from the removal of the trees.

Lapper said the decision on the injunction addressed the pivotal issues of the suit - the segmentation and spot zoning claims.

"I think the town did a thorough job with the SEQR review and the approval of the project," he said.

Gilchrist, however, said many issues in the suit weren't addressed in Krogmann's initial decision. Still pending are the citizens' allegations that the town board fabricated minutes concerning which town entity was authorized to conduct the environmental review and board minutes concerning the scope of the SEQR's jurisdiction. The citizens also challenged the town's written assertions on the SEQR review that claim that the development would have no significant impact on groundwater quality or aesthetic resources.

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