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Court finds for property owners in Philmont property dispute

Mar 06, 2020 3:00 pm
David Lee is reporting for The Columbia Paper acting state Supreme Court Judge Richard Koweek has ruled in favor of the High Falls Property Owners Association in the Article 78 proceeding it filed against the village of Philmont. Koweek found the Philmont Village Board did not properly award a lease for the historic factory building located on Canal Street to the arts organization called Free Columbia. The property owners group was formed in direct response to the lease decision made by the village last summer. The board had agreed to lease the building, owned by the village, to Free Columbia for rehabilitation as a theater and arts center. Koweek found that the lease was improperly approved after the board failed to consider competing bids. Koweek said the only remedy was to start the process all over again. Nathaniel Williams of Free Columbia said, “While there is an option for the village of Philmont and Free Columbia to craft a new lease taking into account the objections raised in the lawsuit, we would like to make sure we take into consideration the totality of the [High Falls Property Owners Association] concerns as we look to go back to the drawing board.” Williams said village officials have not indicated if they want to move forward with Free Columbia. Chris Reed, a spokesperson for the property owners group, said, “I think there are other places in Philmont for Free Columbia.” And though they are not interested in mediation with Free Columbia, Reed said his group would like to meet with the village board about the Canal Street building. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.