Tavern owner faces court over EV chargers

By Alberto Gilman
Posted 6/12/24

Thomas Costa, owner of North Plank Road Tavern, appeared in Town of Newburgh Court on Monday, May 20, following the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at his business. Costa, who …

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Tavern owner faces court over EV chargers


Thomas Costa, owner of North Plank Road Tavern, appeared in Town of Newburgh Court on Monday, May 20, following the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at his business. Costa, who is awaiting a motion to dismiss, believes he has not violated town code.

Costa explained that he participated in the New York State EV Infrastructure Make-Ready Program, administered by utility companies in the region, including Central Hudson Gas and Electric. He said the project began in 2022, with site work starting in spring 2023. Siemens, a licensed EV installer, installed the charging stations.

The freestanding charging stations are located at least 50 feet from the tavern building, in the parking area, and are serviced by a direct electrical meter connection. Although there was a delay due to state permit issuance, the chargers became operational by October 2023. “It was a long and involved program with a lot of oversight,” Costa said.

Costa requested written confirmation from the contractor that a town permit was not required for the project. Despite receiving this confirmation, the town code compliance department later claimed the business violated the town code. Costa identified Code Compliance Officer Joseph Mattina as his contact. Mattina requested that Costa apply and appear before the planning board, but Costa believes this is unnecessary. Mattina forwarded a request for comment to his supervisor, who has not responded.

Costa argued that the charging stations fall under the New York State Uniform Code, which prescribes minimum building construction standards statewide, excluding New York City. However, the NYS Department of State Division of Building Standards and Codes clarified that the charging stations did not fall under the Uniform Code’s construction standards since they are not attached to the building and have a separate connection.

Costa said the installation cost him $60,000, but he was later refunded $23,000 after meeting project specifications and passing inspections.

Joseph Jenkins, Associate Director of Media Relations for Central Hudson, explained that the program reduces the upfront costs of installing charging stations by providing incentives to cover infrastructure costs. Central Hudson evaluates projects based on accessibility, station maturity, plug type, future-proofing costs, and location capacity.

To receive incentives, certain criteria must be met, including that construction of the EV charging station must have started no sooner than July 16, 2020. Each site must have a minimum of two plugs, and stations must conform to capacity guidelines. Jenkins noted there are more than 30 privately owned chargers in the Town of Newburgh.

Approved permits for EV charging stations in the town include locations like Cosimo’s on Union, Tesla, Stop & Shop, Walmart, Manheim Auto Auction, Healey Kia, Thruway Nissan, Morehead Honda, and Unity Chevrolet. Denied applications, requiring referral to the town planning board, include Newburgh Mall, Sunshine Ford, Pilot, Sherwin Williams, North Plank Road Tavern, and Unity Chevrolet (outside).

Costa is represented by Daniel Stafford of Arciero & Burgess, PC. A motion to dismiss must be submitted within two weeks, after which the town’s counsel has two weeks to respond. Attorney Michael Matsler of Rider, Weiner & Frankel, P.C. represents the town. Following the town’s response, Costa’s attorney has a week to reply. A final decision by the town judge is expected on July 29.

“The decision will be whether to dismiss the charges or go to trial,” Costa said. “I would prefer that it’s dismissed, but I am ready to go to trial because I want to see if the code compliance officer actually understands the building code.”