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Judge rules on contentious Pittsford project, developer plans to press on


Mark IV cleaned up 75 Monroe Avenue to build an apartment complex. But the site has sat idle while approval processes and lawsuits play out. - FILE PHOTO
  • Mark IV cleaned up 75 Monroe Avenue to build an apartment complex. But the site has sat idle while approval processes and lawsuits play out.
An acrimonious eight-year-long legal battle over the proposed Westport Crossing development in Pittsford has been put to an end by outgoing state Supreme Court Justice John Ark, at least for now.

Ark, who will be stepping down from the bench at the end of the year, recently issued a pair of rulings against Westport Crossing developer Mark IV, which had proposed building 167 apartment units and a 125-seat restaurant along the Erie Canal at 75 Monroe Ave. The rulings upheld decisions by the village of Pittsford’s Planning and Zoning Board and its Historic Preservation Board to not grant needed approvals to the project.

Residents and some elected officials, including Mayor Bob Corby, have opposed the project. They’ve said the project, which would be built on a brownfield site that was formerly home to an asphalt plant, would be too large and would conflict with the village’s historic character. Similar objections underpinned the denials by the planning and preservation boards.

“They've vindicated what we've been saying all along,” Corby said of Ark’s decisions, adding that both boards provided extensive findings explaining why the project wasn’t compatible with the village’s character.

Chris DiMarzo, Mark IV’s chief operating officer, said the company plans to revise its application and come back to the village to pursue the approvals it needs. He noted that the company spent $6 million to clean up the site and that the revised application would fit within the parameters of special permits the Village Board had previously approved, which allow for the apartments and restaurant.

“We’re not going anywhere,” DiMarzo said.

The legal wrangling over Westport Crossing began not long after the Pittsford Village Board’s November 2012 approval of special permits for the project. A group of residents successfully sued to have the permits invalidated, though the Village Board reissued them in 2019. In his decisions, Ark stated that the 2019 permits remain in place and that Mark IV could seek approval for a revised project under them.

In the years since the 2012 special permit approvals, residents and the developer filed eight lawsuits, each naming the village or its boards as a defendant. As the lawsuits proceeded through the courts, village boards and the developer continued to work through review and approval processes for the project. But the developer, Corby claimed, continually presented plans that didn’t fit within village codes or the parameters of the approved special permits.

In a letter to the various attorneys who have represented the village and its boards, the developer, and civic organizations in the multiple lawsuits around the project, Ark noted that the developer could appeal his decision. He also acknowledged that any of the parties could file new lawsuits.

But Ark also wrote that in recent months, he’d encouraged the village and the developer to discuss a compromise. Both sides realized that the originally proposed 167 apartments “were too many and discussed, to no avail, a smaller development,” he stated before urging the village and developer to continue discussions.

“A few years and many more legal fees from now, the village and the developer may longingly look back to the past few months as a missed opportunity to thoughtfully and creatively resolve this project,” Ark wrote.

Jeremy Moule is CITY's news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].