Timelines 6/21/18

Palisades Center Lawsuit Dismissed
Palisades Center mall owners filed a $50 million lawsuit in 2016 after three years of negotiating with the town, claiming Clarkstown’s restrictions to prohibit the company from expanding the property violate the company’s rights. A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Delaware-based company that owns the mall. The mall’s owners want to renovate the fourth floor and add a parking deck. They also want the restrictions removed to allow future expansion. The mall opened in the late 1990s and Clarkstown residents voted against allowing the property to expand in 2002.

Spring Valley Police Force to Face Upcoming Changes
To cut costs, the Spring Valley Police Department might merge with the neighboring Clarkstown and Ramapo departments. Pending a cost-evaluation study, the three areas might merge departments to cut costs and utilize a state consolidation program. Both Ramapo and Clarkstown applied for a grant to study policing in the area, which includes Spring Valley, according to Mayor Alan Simon. Of the village’s $30 million budget, almost 1/3 goes to the police. A merger would allow officers to keep their jobs and move to other departments, while disbanding the force could result in job losses.

Dried Apricot Recall
On Tuesday June 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled Golden Star Dried Apricots Sour because of “life-threatening allergic reactions” for those who suffer from sulfite allergies. The apricots, manufactured in Michigan were sold wholesale between November 2017 and May 2018 in New York and 12 other states. The apricots are packaged in 12-ounce, clear plastic containers.

Norwegian to Expand Stewart Services
Norwegian Air is considering expanding its service from New York – Stewart International Airport in Newburgh. Currently the airline services flights between Newburgh and five European cities, Dublin, Ireland; Shannon and Belfast, Northern Ireland; Edinburg, Scotland; and Bergen, Norway. The airline has not released a list of potential new cities, but wanted to ensure Stewart would thrive as one of their locations before expanding.

New Luxury Hotel for West Point
Clinton Hill Properties is looking into a 10-year PILOT, mortgage filing fee and building materials sales tax exemptions to build a luxury hotel and conference center on Route 9W in Highland Falls, near West Point. The project cost is totaled to be almost $80 million and will replace the former Pointer Echo Hotel. This new luxury project is expected to be a 5-story, 122-room hotel with 118 employees.

East Ramapo Rejects School Budget Again
The East Ramapo School District voted on the school budget on Tuesday June 19. Voters had one final opportunity to pass the 2018-19 budget. In May, district voters rejected the $237.3 million budget, and the school board chose to put forward the same spending plan on June 19. This time, voters rejected the budget again. This leaves officials to resort to a contingency budget and cut $4.3 million in planned spending. The failed budget called for an almost 3 percent tax increase and set aside funding for new sports uniforms, music programs and legal expenses for the school’s federal lawsuit.

New York Relaxes Marijuana Regulation
New York State Police dogs have stopped pot-sniffing training as the state prepares for proposed legislation to legalize marijuana in New York. Dogs working with county sheriff departments no longer have to be trained to sniff the drug. State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, who was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, said the state agency will be releasing a report recommending the legalization of marijuana. The legislation session is coming to an end, and without Zucker’s report, Cuomo likely won’t push for legalization until next year. Some sheriffs voiced opposition to this new dog training because once a dog has been trained to give an alert, it cannot be untrained. In addition to changing police dog behavior, New Yorkers will now face criminal summonses instead of facing arrest under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new policy. It will go into effect by Sept. 1 and includes several exceptions for offers to use discretion when exercising enforcement. Some of the exceptions include facing arrest if someone is on parole or probation, has existing criminal warrants, doesn’t have identification, has recent documentation of violence or if smoking poses a public risk. While New York continues to progress toward marijuana legalization, Canada recently became the second nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

Trump Signs Order to End Border Family Separation
On Tuesday June 20 President Donald Trump gave into political pressure and signed an executive order to end the separation of families through indefinitely detaining parents and children together at the border. Trump’s order modifies an existing 1997 consent decree which prohibits the federal government from detaining children in immigration detention centers for more than 20 days. Currently the courts have not approved this aspect of the new executive order, which may present legal challenges later on. This order comes weeks after immense political and media pressure to change the way families are being treated at the U.S. Border. Photos and videos of children and teenagers in cage-like detention facilities have led to major criticism of the president and Republican lawmakers. More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents as part of Trump’s, “zero tolerance” policy.

Airmont to Push New Zoning Code
The Village of Airmont is ready to approve and update its zoning code and remove a building moratorium that some view as restrictive. The moratorium has been extended three times. This new zoning code would further restrict the use of residential homes as houses of worship, which draws many comments in the Hasidic Jewish Community residing in Airmont. A copy of the proposed zoning changes is available on the Airmont village office where residents were able to submit comments until June 13. Airmont was founded in 1991 and has faced federal lawsuits regarding allegations of discrimination against Orthodox Jewish residents.