NISKAYUNA: Judge sides with Ingersoll activists

In a sharp rebuke for Niskayuna town officials, a state judge sided with activists on Monday, Sept. 17, and tossed out the hotly contested approval of a special-use permit for construction of a multi-million dollar shopping mall on the site of the historic Ingersoll Home for the Aged.

The decision by state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise effectively sends Highland Development LLC back to the drawing board and requires them to complete a full-blown environmental impact study (EIS) before seeking a fresh round of permit approvals for the controversial Stanford Crossings project proposed for the 12.5-acre site on the corner of Balltown Road and State Street.

Central to the case was the judge's determination that the town board should have also considered the impact of building a replacement senior citizens home at 3359 Consaul Road when deciding whether to require developers to finish an environmental impact study. The judge also noted that Niskayuna's planning board had recommended completion of an EIS before the town board approved construction of the shopping mall.

Accordingly, the petition is granted and the determination granting Highbridge a special-use permit with respect to the Stanford Crossings Project is annulled, Sise said in his eight-page decision.

Word traveled quickly throughout Niskayuna as activists learned that the case had gone their way.

"I am, of course, delighted with the outcome of this case," said Linda Champagne, president of the Friends of Stanford Home, the organization that led the court fight against the town. "People from all over Niskayuna, and even the Capital District, offered us such wonderful support as we fought this battle to preserve this important historic and natural resource, and stand up against the excess commercialization of our town. People from all over were angry with the town board's decision to approve this project and they deserve great credit for coming together to support us in this struggle.

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