Simao isn’t giving up, files legal challenge over golf club plan

Simao isn’t giving up, files legal challenge over golf club plan
Watertown Golf Club

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - P.J. Simao, the owner of Ives Hill Country Club, is again going to court to block rival Watertown Golf Club from expanding in Thompson Park.

Simao’s lawyers have filed court papers against the golf club, Mayor Jeff Smith and the Watertown City Council.

Simao seeks to nullify approval the council gave to the golf club in April to construct three buildings, put up an event tent and develop a 50 space parking lot.

The council did not require an environmental review of the project, but the city did require the golf club to “remediate the current parking lot and septic system."

Then, on August 3, the city council got rid of the remediation requirement when it designated land next to the golf course parking lot as public parking, though Simao says it’s primarily parking for the golf club.

Simao’s lawyers argue the city-owned parking lot should be subject to the State Environmental Quality Review Act, (SEQR) and that you can’t separate the parking lot from from the rest of the work at the golf club.

“If the city were to have properly applied SEQR to its action, it is clear it must have considered not only the parking lot itself but the overall impact of the project for which the parking lot was created,” Simao’s lawyers write.

Instead, they argue, the city failed to take a “hard look” at the possible environmental effects of the parking lot.

The parking lot in question, the lawyers argue, needs remediation because for years the Watertown Golf Club used it for its septic tank leach field, golf cart storage and maintenance and for a fuel tank.

Simao’s lawyers seek to have a judge throw out the city’s designation of a public parking area until an environmental review is done; to have the entire project reviewed again and in the meantime, declare the city council’s approval of the golf club’s plans “null and void.”

Separately, Simao’s lawyers have filed a motion with a state appellate court in Rochester, seeking a chance to re-argue a case he lost in which Simao claimed the golf club’s lease with the city was improper and should be thrown out.

Simao has long argued that the city’s deal with Watertown Golf Club amounts to a subsidy for the golf club, which puts Ives Hill, Simao’s club, at an unfair disadvantage.

Also part of the lawsuit against the city and the golf club: Cliff Olney, who has unsuccesfully run for mayor and city council.

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