Lawyers face-off as they prepare for BT Holdings trial
Village's attorney refuses request by developer's lawyers for documents prior to June 13 trial


The attorneys for both sides outside court in Goshen. On the left is Mary Marzolla, the village's attorney. Russell M. Yankwitt (left) and George C. Godfrey, attorneys for the developer, are pictured on the right. (Photos by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris
CHESTER — Lawyers for the village of Chester and the developer of BT Holdings will meet in court at 10 a.m. on June 13, when they hope to settle a long-running controversy over housing density spanning more than a decade, two mayors, one land annexation, and several sessions in court.
Unable to get the village to agree to the number of houses he wants — and says he's entitled to — in his townhouse development, developer Frank Nussbaum has promised Chester taxpayers a costly legal wrangle. The fourth pre-trial hearing on Tuesday was requested by Nussbaum's legal team and held at Supreme Court.
Russell Yankwitt, attorney for BT Holdings, said he wanted to make sure he's in compliance with Judge Elaine Slobod's rules. He also wants to save the jury time by exchanging documents prior to the trial. This will help keep the trial short and on point, he said.
Yankwitt said Mary Marzolla, the village's attorney, had not complied with his request for documents.
Marzolla said she will not relinquish documents in advance of the trial.
"The village will try this case in the courts, not the media as Frank Nussbaum wants," she said.
On Tuesday, Judge Slobod asked both parties to approach the bench, where they remained cloistered for almost five minutes. Following this, the trial date was reaffirmed.
"After nearly a decade of working closely with BT on a development that the village board itself concluded would be a great benefit to its community, the board suddenly and inexplicably reversed itself as soon as it annexed BT's property, exhibiting not only bad faith but also explicitly breaking its signed contracts with BT," Yankwitt said in an email. "Even so, BT stood ready to reach a reasonable resolution with the board to end this litigation, but the board refused to propose any settlement offer and now faces a multi-million dollar judgment. Thus, the BT trial team is ready to begin discussing this case with a jury on June 13, and looks forward to vindicating the rights of its client." Some village residents were present in court, including Nikki Meyer, Gordon Shehab, and Leslie Smith. Nussbaum was also in court.