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BALLSTON: Judge upholds retailer ban

After four weeks of deliberation, Supreme Court Justice Frank Williams dismissed the third appeal by landowners to overturn the decision by the town of Ballston banning construction of a Wal-Mart.

Frank and Rose Marie Rossi, and their daughter Gina Rossi Marozzi, all of Ballston Spa, have petitioned the courts three times since the Ballston town board voted to disallow the mega-center's move into the northern end of town.

The Rossis have sought to nullify the board's decision based on challenges against town zoning changes, attesting their usage for the land was approved before the zoning laws were changed. The Rossi family incurred out-of-pocket expenses totaling about $1 million preparing the land for construction, including water and sewer line installation and inspection fees.

In his ruling, released Friday, Judge Williams stated Wal-Mart failed to file a petition against Ballston for rewriting its zoning laws, and the Rossis, as the lawsuit's petitioners, were not the applicants for the building project, and therefore had no legal leg to stand on.

This is the worst decision I've ever read, said Marozzi of Judge William's two-page narrative. "How he could say we have no standing is way beyond me. This is the most political decision I've ever seen. He's a Republican judge in Saratoga County, so I half expected this."

Judge Williams also dismissed attempts to re-activate political sparring involving a contentious issue between town council members and their political opponents that erupted last fall.

Along with the third set of legal papers, the judge received purported evidence of two so-called secret meetings among some town board members last spring, which the Rossis have asserted was held to discuss the Wal-Mart decision before the vote. The court determined months ago the meetings were political caucuses not in violation of New York State Open Meeting Laws, which require prior notification of the public.

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