Town officials have been given two weeks to file their formal legal briefs in the high-profile courtroom battle over the fate of the Ingersoll Home for the Aged in Niskayuna. The impending Nov. 30 deadline has left activists playing a game of beat the clock as they try to garner votes from a majority of the five-member town board in hopes of blocking the town attorney from filing an appeal.
But Liz Orzel Kasper, a veteran member of the board who was re-elected last week, said it is unlikely that will happen.
Once Jan. 1 comes, we may be able to get the votes needed to keep the town from becoming involved in the appeal because we will have some new members on the town board, but until then I doubt it, said Kasper.
Under a schedule provided by the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, once the town has submitted its written arguments, Lou Oliver, the attorney for those seeking to preserve the two-century-old Ingersoll Home, will have five weeks to file his legal papers in the case. Oral arguments are set for February.
The contentious battle over the Ingersoll Home has been raging since the spring when the town board narrowly approved granting a special use permit to developers planning to build a multi-million dollar shopping mall on the 12.5-acre site on the corner of Balltown Road and State Street. Along with the new shopping mall, the project also involves relocating the existing nursing home to a site on Consaul Road where a new 77-bed nursing home will be built.
Led by former town historian Linda Champagne, critics have charged that the Niskayuna town board improperly failed to consider both these projects as related when deciding whether to require completion of a full-blown environmental impact study. The critics filed a lawsuit under the umbrella of the Friends of Stanford Home and won a major victory when state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise ruled in their favor. Since then both the developers and the town have moved to appeal the decision.
This week Champagne expressed concern about the town's pursuit of an appeal in the case and filed a Freedom of Information Law request with the town seeking a string of documents seeking to determine whether the town attorney has the authority to appeal the case without approval from the town board. She also expressed "enormous relief" that a new administration will be sworn into office when the new year begins. ""