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Judge dismisses Trump suit on Jones Beach delays

Donald Trump in May 2007 at the ground-breaking

Donald Trump in May 2007 at the ground-breaking for luxury high-rise, Trump Parc, in Stamford, Conn. Credit: AP, 2007

A judge has dismissed Donald Trump's lawsuit seeking $500 million in damages from the state for delays in building his planned Jones Beach catering hall and restaurant, but the developer plans to appeal.

State Court of Claims Judge Francis Collins said Trump has failed to substantiate his allegations that the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation had acted in bad faith on the Trump on the Ocean project.

Trump attorney Steven Schlesinger said the July 14 ruling that was made public Wednesday will be appealed to the state Appellate Division because the judge had made "illogical jumps" in his reasoning.

The decision to appeal, along with two other unresolved court cases, means nothing will be built atop the hole by the boardwalk anytime soon. One of those cases was over the state's attempt in the spring to collect more than $200,000 in unpaid rent on the property.

Trump's damage suit stems from the March 2008, denial by a Department of State review board of a variance to allow Trump to build a basement under the catering hall in a floodplain. Trump won a separate lawsuit over the denial in State Supreme Court but the state is appealing.

In the Court of Claims case, Trump argued that the state did not notify him of the need to obtain approval for the basement until well into the project and that the state failed to properly support the application.

The parks agency has said it had made clear that Trump needed to meet all requirements of the state building code and obtain all necessary approvals from the beginning of the project.

Collins ruled that "neither the denial of the applications by a separate and distinct government entity nor the failure to assign an individual of sufficient stature, in the claimant's opinion, to attend the variance hearings come close to stating a cause of action."

Parks spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee said "this common-sense decision strongly rejects the notion that state parks in any way impeded or delayed the advancement of this project."

Trump has said repeatedly that he would not build anything or even reveal which of two designs he favored until the damages issue was resolved. But Schlesinger said "we're willing to build tomorrow" the initial design requiring a variance that was denied. But "the state has prevented it" by appealing the Supreme Court ruling in Trump's favor, he said.

Larrabee said the state considers the only plan on the table to be one worked out with Trump after the variance was denied. She said if he wants to build the original design, he would have to start the application process over again.

Schlesinger said "there is no deal for the compromise [design] because it required them to pay us $5 million to change the construction plans." Larrabee said "they asked for the $5 million and we rejected it."

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