According to an attorney who has seen the decisions, Columbia County Judge Richard Koweek “ruled in favor of Ginsberg’s on all four lawsuits” and has ordered the Ghent Planning Board to grant the company a special use permit.
As a rule, it is very rare in New York State for judges to overrule decisions by local agencies such as planning and zoning boards.
The decision is ironic in at least one respect: The State Authorities Budget Office decided not to delve deeper into the conflict of interest issues related to Ginsberg’s and the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, due to the denial by the Ghent Planning Board. The ABO said that the denial rendered such conflict questions moot:
No harm has yet arisen [emphasis added] from the board’s failure to follow its own policies since the Ginsberg Foods expansion project was not approved by the Ghent Planning Board. This may not always be the case with future projects.
Today’s news begs the question: What harm may have arisen now?