Lake Ridge Plaza Owner Trying To Prevent CVS From Using Right-of-Way
By Tina Traster
The fate of a proposed CVS Pharmacy on Route 303 in Valley Cottage next to Lake Ridge Plaza could soon be determined by a Westchester court following more than three years of litigation that hinges on access to a right-of-way or “paper road” adjacent to the former Cefola oil change site.
GBR Valley Cottage LLC, owner of Lake Ridge Plaza, which includes a Rite Aid, has attempted to thwart CVS from using a 60-foot right-of-way at the northwestern edge of its property for ingress and egress into a proposed parking lot. GBR is suing the Town of Clarkstown over the right-of-way, and the plaintiff has filed an article 78 against town’s Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals for granting approvals on the project over the past two years.
“We anticipate a decision relatively soon,” said GBR’s attorney Judson Siebert, Keane & Beane in White Plains. Defendants in the case include CVS Pharmacy, First Hartford Realty Corporation and DK Cefola, LLC. The case is before Justice Gretchen Walsh of the Westchester County Environmental Claims Part.
At the heart of the issue is who owns the right-of-way – the Town of Clarkstown or GBR.
CVS, which wants to build a 12,000-square-foot pharmacy with a drive-thru, says it needs access to what it claims is a right-of-way but GBR asserts in legal filings that the right-of-way was never properly dedicated to the town.
“No portion of GBR’s real property may be utilized by Town or CVS for any purpose, including its use as a means of ingress and egress to an adjoining parcel owned by ‘defendant,’” the suit says. “Contrary to Defendants’ assertions, Plaintiff’s predecessor-in-title (Loomis J. Grossman) possessed legal authority to revoke the offer of dedication for the 60-foot right-of-way by virtue of the Subdivision Plat filed in the Office of the Rockland County Clerk in 1974.”
The suit argues that the late Grossman exercised this authority and the revocation was acknowledged and accepted by the town when it deleted the right-of-way from the town map or “plat” in 1985.
“Defendants cannot now argue that the Town Board’s deletion of the 60-foot right-of-way from the official map did not relinquish its rights when that is precisely what the town board did when it abandoned Ahearn Avenue in 1974,” the suit reads.
“It’s our property,” said Siebert. “CVS has its own means of ingress. We don’t want our property to be burdened.”
But the town has been fighting the claim, asserting GBR traded ownership over the right-of-way when it made the swap a condition of purchasing Ahearn Avenue for the development of its shopping center.
Siebert says the town made a fully informed and deliberate decision to delete the right-of-way and after 1985 there was no remaining offer of dedication upon which the town board could act.
GBR maintains Grossman revoked the offer of dedication and secured Clarkstown’s agreement that the industrial road should not be used due to traffic safety and planning issues.
CVS disagrees, claiming the right-of-way was part of a planned industrial road to the north of GBR’s property and those with an interest in the right-of-way would have been required to agree to the revocation of the offer of dedication for the right-of-way.
Neither CVS’s attorney Kathy Zalantis nor Clarktown’s counsel Paul Schofield, returned calls seeking comment.