2 business owners sue Rhinebeck village

The village of Rhinebeck is facing two separate lawsuits from two local business owners for recent decisions made by the planning and zoning boards.

According to the village planning office, Daniel Colnaghi, the owner of 47 W. Market St., is suing over the Zoning Board of Appeals’ Jan. 16 resolution upholding a 2013 cease-and-desist order from the village’s zoning enforcement officer. The resolution mandated that two of the three organizations providing counseling at the mental health center on the property vacate the premises within 60 days because the board found they do not conform to the zoning code.

The village’s attorney Richard Olson confirmed the Article 78 lawsuit but was unable to comment before press time. A copy of the lawsuit was filed with the planning and zoning office prior to Feb. 20, but was not available for public review by March 7 because Olson was still reviewing it. He said it would be available after the village board meeting March 11.

A separate Article 78 lawsuit was filed by attorney Richard Cantor on behalf of George Banta, owner of the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn. It challenges the site plan approval of a 50-room boutique hotel “Rhinebeck Village Place,” which would be located at 46 W. Market St., abutting the Beekman property.

The approval, issued Jan. 21, waived the need for a special use permit for the spa to be located in the first floor of the building on the recommendation of the Zoning Enforcement Officer, John Fenton. That recommendation is the subject of an appeal currently in front of the ZBA and will be discussed at their next meeting March 20.

The lawsuit lists as defendants the village; the ZBA; the planning board; Mirbeau, LLC, the owners of the property; and Rhinebeck Village Place, LLC, the developer.

The suit takes issue broadly with the entire planning process and challenges the validity of the SEQR determination (a negative declaration of environmental impacts), and the validity of the site plan and special permit determination, according to the document filed in the planning office Feb. 12. It requests that the court nullify all the challenged determinations.

Article 78 suits are state court challenges to local or state agency decisions. Both lawsuits were scheduled for a hearing March 7 in state Supreme Court at the county courthouse in Poughkeepsie, but details on the outcome were not available by press time.

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