Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Utility Worker, A Meteorologist and a Politician Walk Into A Bar

Sure, the headline is a take on how most jokes used to start before political correctness hijacked our ability to laugh at ourselves under the guise of seeming insensitive should we tell one. But this time, it isn’t really a laughing matter. All we have heard for the last week are sensational claims that the fourth nor’easter was headed our way. Many businesses that can have their employees working from home are doing so. Those that cannot work from home and must report to work to get paid will lose a day’s pay because their employer has closed as the doomsday predictions have been so incredibly hyped. All schools in the area were closed in anticipation of the snowmageddon. Of course, we do it for the kids.

In general, we are thankful that we can go to sleep knowing what the weather holds in store for us the following day. We can get the kids off to school properly dressed as well as ourselves. We know to bring an umbrella even though it might not be raining as we leave for our respective destinations. Yet in spite of any fore-warnings we may receive, it should be incumbent on those proffering the information to not over-hype it. In this age of 24-7-365 information overload, it seems that every media outlet makes what we used to simply experience as a snow storm into a state-of-emergency event.

As we sit perched atop the hill in the ABG office, we believed we were going to get clobbered at approximately 1PM when the snow's intensity appeared to be growing. Maybe the forecasters were correct after all. We decided to close at 2PM and go our separate ways. Everyone made it home without incident as the roads had little traffic and mostly covered with slush. One person joked, “This just in… there is 1-3” of rock salt on the roadways. Please stay inside and off the roads for your own protection…” Yes, it was humorous in a sarcastic way, but it highlighted what was going on and presents a bigger problem down the line.

Once the media pundits begin to make the lead story the impending weather and then make it a perpetual story for each of their newscasts, including the scrolling banner on the bottom of your TV screen and the interruptions of the shows you are watching, they’ve become part of the problem. We’ve also seen every politician come out and add to the hysteria. The governor has declared a state of emergency and the Town is closing early under the better safe than sorry mantra – which does make sense. So what’s the problem?

The public is getting weary of the weather-related incidents to the point where they’re starting to ignore them. That’s the real problem. We saw it during Hurricane Katrina when the populace were told to evacuate. Reporter after reporter would interview residents who insisted they would stay and ride or tough it out as they’ve been through this before and everyone is just trying to make news. With traffic jams and limited roadways, a shortage of fuel, seniors with the inability to relocate and more, it’s understandable why staying put may have made some sense to them. But as more and more people come to realize the weather as reported are not coming to fruition, people will continue to adopt a wait and see attitude or worse – they’ll ignore it. And, while it’s an understandable reaction, it could be deadly.

Our suggestion is to weigh the information as objectively as possible. Go online, watch television and listen to the radio. You can even check out the National Weather Service and get weather information that may not be local but will show the storms, their projected paths and what we can expect. All of the media forecasters are watching it too! Then watch the local news and listen to the area radio stations. With all of that information, you can make an informed decision. If the police department and various levels of government officials are saying to do something, pay attention to that too. Obviously, if you have kids, your decisions could very well be different. Either way, sift through the hype and make better choices for your own safety. It will make for A Better Greenburgh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Snow Clearing Operations

While our local Snow Ordinance ended on March 15th, we are asking for the public’s assistance during this upcoming late season snow storm. Snow is expected to start during tonight’s overnight hours and continue until approximately11:00pm Wednesday night. Please make all efforts to keep cars off town roads to expedite snow clearing operations. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.
Chief Chris McNerney
Chief of Police
Town of Greenburgh Police Department

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Beware of ESCO Scam Mailing

With all of the junk mail the post office delivers on a daily basis, it’s easy to get it confused with legitimate mail. Couple that with scammers, identity thieves and the like, it’s no wonder that some people are easily duped. Mr Feiner has continually railed against the postal service for poor service and spotty mail delivery, but as a government entity, can we really expect a change? This is more an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

Regardless, a new mailing found it’s way into our offices from a company called North American Power of Norwalk, Connecticut. Make no mistake about it, this is a solicitation from an ESCO trying to sign up unwitting residents to use them as your power supplier with a confusing and official looking document. 
Notice there are several telltale issues with this very official looking document. First and foremost as you remove the paperwork from their envelope, the first thing you’ll see is CONEDISON CUSTOMERS: Please COMPLETE, SIGN and RETURN this Emrollment Consent Form/Terms of Service in the enclosed postage-paid envelope. This is nothing more than an attempt to fool ConEd customers into thinking this is official and from ConEd and to act immediately. YOU SHOULD NOT!

We have previously written about ESCO's and especially the ESCO that Mr Feiner got into bed with here in the Town of Greenburgh, Sustainable Westchester (ESCO). Mr Feiner and his Town Board enrolled all 90,000+ residents into it without their authorization or approval. Next, he and his Board passed a law forcing ConEd, most likely your current supplier, to release your information to this group of lawyers. Finally, after extensive studying of ESCO’s elsewhere, it was proven that the savings are minuscule at best, if at all.

You are certainly free to choose who you wish your energy supplier to be, whether it’s ConEd or someone else. Keep in mind though that ESCO's are not providing you with the energy itself, but the transmission of it. You’ll still be paying ConEd for your energy and now another company for the transmission of it. If you look on your current energy suppliers bill, you’ll see the transmission rate and your cost. It’s usually only a couple of dollars at most and sometimes only manages to be pennies. And, once you sign in, you cannot easily or inexpensively opt-out. Another ploy they’ll use is to tell you they are using “green” energy. That too is difficult to validate and worth further investigation. 

Do what you will, but we are simply providing a caveat emptor for those who may not be aware of what ESCO’s are about or trying to do. We just want you to be informed. It will make for A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Storm Highlights Frustrations

It seems that every politician is trying to grab more and more headlines during the two most recent storms. Newly elected County Executive George Latimer has had numerous television clips showing him basically yelling into the phone at ConEd executives. Anyone who has gone to and had to deal with the Town Board at a meeting will certainly empathize with his level of frustration. These first 100-year storms and now 500-year storms seem to be happening every year, often several times in one year. But why? There is no easy answer to this unless you are a politician. Of course, it’s climate change – or is it?

In Mr Feiner’s most recent email blast, he says:
“I'm very aggravated. Thought and hoped that everyone would have their power back yesterday as Con Ed promised earlier in the week. Was wrong. Although many residents did contact me--delighted that their power was restored sometime yesterday, others are still out. As of 9 AM there were 338 homes in Greenburgh out of power, down from over 1000 at some points yesterday. Last week there were over 4,000 outages. Con Ed has not been notifying local officials from anywhere in the county what streets they are going to next. We can yell, scream, beg them to help. We can highlight hard luck stories. Sometimes they listen. They also have not always responded to some of our requests. Every municipal official I speak with from other communities has shared similar stories. And some communities are worst off --have more outages.” Now he is starting to know how residents feel whenever we’re trying to get answers from him and his Board!

Mr Feiner has also gone to great lengths to highlight some of those without power or the resources to be able to leave for a stay with relatives, friends or simply a hotel. We truly sympathize with those people without power and with damage to their homes. Oddly, the hotels in our area are all rather expensive, now including a new 3% room tax that Mr Feiner and his Board, along with Assemblyman Abinanti and Senator Stewart-Cousins could not wait to impose on guests. Their claim was that this would not cost residents because they, ahem, don’t rent rooms in Greenburgh. How’s that working out now? Karma.

After the storm always seems to be a political free-for-all to see who can beat up the big bad utilities for not doing something right, not doing anything at all or not doing enough. One way or the other the news media will jump at each one of their attempts to point fingers and replay it incessantly. The utilities are Public Service organizations, regulated by what must seem like billions of regulations put in place by, yes, politicians. This seems to be a sort of Catch-22. One thing the politicians never do is to blame themselves!

Mr Latimer, while new in the County Executive position was a County Legislator, Assemblyman and Senator before assuming this new position. So none of this is new to him, and he has not done much in his previous positions to alleviate any of these difficulties. He remains culpable to a degree and should not get a pass because he’s in a new position. Mr Feiner on the other hand, has been in office even longer and actually exacerbated the problem.

After Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, the Fulton Park Civic Association leaders met with Commissioner Victor Carosi and Richard Fon about trying to get the trees in the area trimmed to prevent further trees from coming down and taking out wires. To their credit, and the efforts of many, a good number of problematic trees were taken down. Because of that effort, no trees have come down onto wires, causing any power outages in that corridor. This type of maintenance needs to happen regularly. Mr Feiner, while always happy to talk about issues, is also very unwilling to take action – unless of course he can get publicity from it. Instead of focusing on the 2% tax cap – which isn’t really followed anyway, Mr Feiner should focus on spending some money on maintenance for the taxpayers well being, instead of $6.5 million fines from guilty verdicts as with the Fortress Bible Discrimination case.

Indirectly, however, Mr Feiner has had trees removed by authorizing all of the overdevelopment throughout the Town. Yes, hundreds and maybe even thousands of trees and pervious space have been removed or will be removed to permit zone-busting, oversized and inappropriate buildings wherever a developer asks for it. The latest will be the former Elmwood Country Club, which succumbed to a falling membership and sold the property to a developer seeking to alter the property’s zoning to create 175 townhouses.

Each time we create more impervious space through these types of construction projects, the remaining permeable spaces wind up getting abnormally inundated with water. As the area saturates more and more, to the point of over-saturation, the soil’s stability is undermined and the trees, usually the older, taller and heavier ones come down. Maintenance of the large trees, as well as a reduction of these over-sized projects and a stricter adherence to our zoning and building codes would surely help.

Several years ago, after Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene, Mr Feiner lied to a flood ravaged resident on Old Kensico Road that F.E.M.A. would purchase their home to help them get “out from under”, that resident learned an inconvenient truth: Mr Feiner will say anything without regard to whether it is true or not! Regardless, yesterday Mr Feiner sent out another Feiner email blast that Town employees had finished clearing the trees off of all roadways. Yesterday. Why is that important? Because the utility workers were often unable to access their power equipment until the Town cleared a way for them to get in and operate safely. So, while we feel bad for those residents who have been suffering without power, there is plenty of blame to go around, starting with Mr Feiner’s and his administration.

We will continue to get more severe storms such as this. Mother Nature, while full of surprises, can afford some predictability that will allow us to be better prepared. First, we must dredge the Bronx and Saw Mill Rivers to help storm water flow unencumbered. Second, we must have a tree trimming initiative that operates all of the time, not just when it’s convenient for a TV sound byte. Third, any new construction should mandate underground wiring. Fourth, Mr Feiner needs to operate during storms at the County’s Emergency Command Facility in Hawthorne. That’s where government leaders, utility leaders, police, fire and other heads of organizations operate from during an emergency. Why does this make sense? Because Mr Feiner could simply turn to the head of ConEd and ask direct questions and get direct answers.

There are other things that need improvement such as our sorely neglected infrastructure. How this Town operates is woefully inefficient and it shows up painfully for the abused and beleaguered taxpayers time and time again, especially highlighted during storms. This has to change. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Proposed Development Of The Former Elmwood County Club

Another large development saga has been slowly unfolding in the Town for about a year now. That is the sale and more importantly the development of the former Elmwood Country Club, located on Dobbs Ferry Road. The company that is undertaking the Elmwood development is the Ridgewood Realty Company of New Jersey. The two proposals to the public were to build either 119 single-family homes and the other is to down-zone the property from R-30 to R-20 so they can build 175 town-houses instead of about 120 town-houses for an adult of 55 years or older that sell for an average price of $900,000 each!

As an aside, if single-family homes are built, the Town will receive a taxable income of 100% from each home. Town houses on the other hand are taxed at a reduced rate of about 60% and produce less taxable income for the Town. Why is this important to us? Mostly to pay off guilty verdicts levied by the courts against Mr Feiner and his Board, such as the Fortress Bible Church discrimination lawsuit. Mr Feiner and his Board members were found guilty on seven counts including discrimination, lying under oath and destroying evidence.

Residents had been preached to by Mr Feiner of his plan to create the Dobbs Ferry Road corridor into a recreational corridor by allowing his friends from GameOn 365 to develop the former Frank’s Nursery property into an ill-appropriate 8-story sports bubble for mostly indoor tennis and soccer along with outdoor ballfields in a residential neighborhood zoned for residential housing. Fortunately, the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, with help from others, were able to stave off this assault.

Town residents would have had to pay to use that facility even though they were also told they could use it at reduced rates but only during specific and limited times. The rest of the time would have been dedicated to leagues and non-residents from as far away as New Jersey and Brooklyn. In fact, some of those non-residents spoke, without providing addresses of course, in favor of the project claiming there were not enough soccer fields anywhere for them to play soccer. The obvious question was why don't they try to develop fields in their own hometowns?

While GameOn 365 has purchased the 16-acre Visioli Golf Driving range with additional prpoerty amounting to a total purchase of 32-acres on Dobbs Ferry Road, it remains to be seen how it can or will be developed – especially since the surrounding neighborhoods were vehemently against it as the land is zoned for residential housing, not commercial 8-story buildings. The Visolis had been in a contract dispute with their lessees as to who was responsible to pay the taxes, forcing them to be in arrears. Since Mr Feiner was favoring any deal the GameOn 365 partners could broker, the Visoli’s financial health or business’ viability was not of much concern. He just needed the headlines to keep appearing with his name in them. 

Another recent change is the former Frank’s Nursery property that was sold for $3.5 million to a developer named Capitol Seniors Housing, who will be building an assisted living facility at that location for about 100 residents. Sadly, after Mr Feiner and Mr Lewis claimed remediation of the former Frank’s Nursery property would be capped at $100,000, we now know that the cost to the Town will be just under $2 million! Is this why there are so many jokes about not trusting lawyers? Regardless, after back taxes are paid on the property including the remediation, the Town taxpayers will not see a profit on another piece of property it owned.

There are several other factors in play while these two developments are underway. We’ve learned that part of the Metropolis Country Club may be for sale soon as they are experiencing the same shrinking market that Elmwood had. In fact, we’ve heard that Hartsdale's Maplewood Swim and Tennis Club may also be up for sale soon due to the same issues. Finally, there have been rumors that the Knollwood Country Club’s shrinking base may force a partial sale of some or all of their property. It appears that millennials are not into golf, tennis and swimming as much as previous generations.

With the certain proposal for the Elmwood Country Club property, the Greenburgh Conservation Advisory Council met and crafted the below letter to the Town Board objecting to the down-zoning of the property which would result in an increase in density. This is important for several reasons: these Board members are “Feiner-friendly” as they are appointed by Mr Feiner; and because they recognize the harm that can be done by down-zoning. Down-zoning goes against the recently approved Comprehensive Plan that was 8-years in the making and cost taxpayers over $600,000. Mr Feiner cheered about it through email blasts, print media and at every public event he attended.

Here's the Greenburgh Conservation Advisory Council’s letter in its entirety:

TO: Greenburgh Town Board 
FROM: Greenburgh Conservation Advisory Council 
DATE: Feb. 12, 2018 

Statement of the CAC RE Proposed Development of the former Elmwood County Club 

The Conservation Advisory Council has discussed the proposed development of the former Elmwood County Club by Ridgewood Real Estate Partners. The CAC noted that one of the options being discussed is tied to a “down zoning” in the existing zoning of R30 on the property to R20 zoning, which would result in an increase of about 50 additional residential units. 

As a result, the CAC voted to issue a statement in support of the Comprehensive Plan, as adopted by the Town Board on Sept. 28, 2016. The Comprehensive plan states expressly, without qualification, there are no planned policies to increase density in residential zoning. 

11.6.4 Projected Sales & Net New Development No policies are recommended to extend existing one-family and multi-family residentially zoned districts into other areas of unincorporated Greenburgh. There are also no planned policies to allow a greater density of residential units or residences per acre in existing one-family and multi-family residentially zoned districts. It is anticipated that residential subdivision and site plan applications will trend in a manner similar to that depicted in the 12-year snapshot in Table 11.15, which had a proportionately higher percentage of new developments with lower numbers of new residential units. 
Under New York law, all Town use regulations such as zoning must be in accordance to the Comprehensive Plan. As stated in N.Y. TWN.LAW 272 – A (11) (a), “Effect of adoption of the town comprehensive plan. (a) All town land use regulations must be in accordance with a comprehensive plan adopted pursuant to this section.” 

The applicants request to increase density is not in accordance with the express provision of the Comprehensive Plan pertaining to density in residentially zoned districts. 

The determination to not allow an increase in density in the residential zones was in direct response to the valid concerns of the residents. Starting with the initial outreach meetings and at all subsequent public meetings the public comment consistently focused on the concerns about the impacts on residential communities resulting from allowing more dense housing options, such as road congestion, changing the look

and feel from suburban to urban, diminished air quality and general diminishment of quality of life. A review of residents’ comments shows 256 complaints about traffic and 205 complaints against development. During the multi-year process of development of the Comprehensive Plan, believing in its importance, the CAC issue three reports to the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee which among other issues highlighted the impacts of increased traffic on air quality and quality of life. The determination provided in the Comprehensive Plan not to increase density in residential areas is consistent with public input, rational and environmentally sound. 
The CAC further notes that any change in zoning to permit more density would set a precedent for the possible future development of the remaining golf courses and other large parcels in the Town. 

Conservation Advisory Council 

Cc Judith Belville, Town Clerk 
Garrett Duquesne, Commissioner, Community Development and Conservation 

Ultimately, all of these assisted living and senior living facilities may have a detrimental effect on our school systems as many seniors, empty nesters, etc., typically vote against school budgets. With more and more people moving here and not feeding students into the school system and voting against the budgets, it will have a detrimental effect on property values. So Mr Feiner’s scheming may work against us again. 

With the hopes of Mr Feiner’s sports corridor dashed, the development of the Elmwood Country Club in tandem with the former Frank’s Nursery, and other spaces throughout our Town, it now appears that Mr Feiner’s new corridor will be a housing and/or residential corridor. Or will it? There needs to be a better balance without Mr Feiner in the mix. Let the Town, its zoning laws, Comprehensive Plan and neighborhoods control our destiny. It’ll make for A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Appeal of Court Decision No Surprise

It’s been apparent from the beginning that Mr Feiner has always been against the Edgemont Incorporation Committee (EIC) proponents to incorporate and become a Village within the Town. Election after election has emboldened him to care less and less about what his constituents think, feel or want. And yet, despite this cavalier attitude he has toward them, the electorate has a similar one, reelecting him by the thousands even though he runs unopposed for a position he has held for 14 terms!

Mr Feiner set himself up for the current legal battle which had been anticipated by the EIC leadership for refusing to allow their petitioned referendum. But this is Mr Feiner’s modus operandi to garner attention, media exposure through controversy and more email addresses he can use later for campaigning purposes down the road. – regardless of whether he should need them or not. Again, Mr Feiner ran unopposed in the last as well as a good number of past elections and  “won.

While Mr Feiner decided to refuse to allow the EIC petition to follow it’s natural course, he also plotted against these residents. And, while he plotted against them, he concurrently plotted against the rest of the Unincorporated Greenburgh residents. He used unauthorized Town funds to hire a judge whom in turn hired a private security firm who in turn sought to get a new petition signed by those residents who supported incorporation by signing the EIC petition. Once the sham was exposed, Mr Feiner pointed fingers at his newly-hired judge. Some say the judge was bought and paid for by Mr Feiner using illegally gotten funds. No matter, the judge was there to do exactly what Mr Feiner had orchestrated!

Once Mr Feiner began the charade of not wanting the Edgemont incorporation, he was stuck. Regardless of the arguments, rationale or answers provided, he was forced to continue down the fruitless path he created. It’s like the kid that lies and has to keep the lie going with more lies no matter how many times he is caught. It should always be remembered that the EIC frequently reached out to Mr Feiner and his Board asking to meet to discuss the possible Village of Edgemont utilizing Town services contractually should they incorporate. Mr Feiner refused. So did Councilman Jones. Their public reasoning was that the EIC was not an official or recognizable legal entity and incapable of entering into a legal or binding arrangement. Why wouldn’t they meet with Town residents/taxpayers/constituents on general principle and discuss any of it with them? No contracts needed to be signed, no official attorneys were needed simply to have a conversation.

The EIC and others followed Mr Feiner’s advice, “If you don’t like what I’m doing, sue me!” They did. After some legal back and forth maneuvers that were nothing more than additional stall tactics by Mr Feiner, Judge Susan Cacace finally ruled that Mr Feiner was wrong and the petitions were valid. She also mandated a limited timeframe for Mr Feiner to hold the referendum. Not one to admit defeat in the face of it, Mr Feiner announced that he would appeal Judge Cacace’s decision dragging this out even longer. The EIC paid the Town $6,000 to file the petition seeking the referendum. That money is to be used to pay for the special election.

$6,000 already paid to the Town sits unused because of Mr Feiner pig-headed behavior. $50,000 of unauthorized Town funds was urinated away by Mr Feiner and his Board to rent a judge as a scapegoat. But that wasn’t enough! At a Special Town Board Meeting, on February 13, 2018, a resolution was passed to give Judge Spolzino another $50,000 to review and evaluate the EIC petition*. Unknown court fees were also flushed down the toilet because of Mr Feiner’s arrogance coupled with other unknown expenses. If Mr Feiner truly cared about the well-being of the Town he would resign! Since that’s unlikely, we urge him to start the dialog with the EIC proponents to ensure that they ultimately do contract with the Town for services instead of turning to either another municipality or a private entity for their village. That would begin to show a modicum of concern for the Unincorporated taxpayers, whom he has saddled with a $6.5 million judgement with the Fortress Bible Church discrimination guilty verdict.

Mr Feiner would also do well to stop trying to drive a wedge between the community by using the Theodore D. Young Community Center (TDYCC) as a political football – something else Mr Feiner is well-skilled at doing. A court decision a number of years ago already mandates that the TDYCC must be paid for by the Unincorporated taxpayers whether they like it or not. The EIC has expressed interest in supporting the TDYCC should their incorporation come to fruition. This is a bit different from the other Villages whose residents don’t want to pay for the operation of the TYDCC even though they are allowed to use it.

Let’s hope that this appeal is expedited (or better, dropped) and we can move on with the referendum and see how things flush out. This has festered as another ugly blemish inflicted on our Town by Mr Feiner and it’s time for it all to end. A decision via a referendum is long past due. Either way this goes, it will make for A Better Greenburgh.

*AT 3 - 2/13/18
Resolution authorizing the continued retention of Robert A. Spolzino, Esq. of Smith Buss & Jacobs, LLP in connection with the review and evaluation of a petition for village incorporation submitted by residents of the Edgemont section of the Town, for an amount not to exceed $50,000

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Passing of former County Legislator Lois Bronz

Greenburgh resident and former County Legislator Lois Bronz, the first African American and the first woman elected Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, has passed away. She was a pioneer, trailblazer, and role model for people throughout the county. As a tireless volunteer, philanthropist, and activist, she championed many important causes and served her community with distinction. We will update this story when we receive more information.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Play The Race Card When All Else Fails

We’re no longer surprised at the depths Mr Feiner is willing to succumb to get what he wants. You’ve read here that he has gone out of his way to thwart the Edgemont residents and their attempt at an incorporation bid. You’ve also read that the 14-term incumbent – a fact that in and of itself is a political tragedy – has stooped to new lows by hiring a retired judge to use as a deflection scapegoat once he decided to refuse the Edgemont Incorporation Committee's (EIC) petition requesting a referendum for incorporation. The judge in turn hired a private investigation company to try to invalidate the petition signatures of Edgemont residents who signed the petitions.

We also recently wrote about the decision that Judge Susan Cacace rendered regarding the EIC petitions that Mr Feiner invalidated, forcing the EIC to sue the Town. This lawsuit was warranted as the residents’ rights were being violated by Mr Feiner and his Board. Had Mr Feiner not tried to politicize the EIC’s incorporation petition and done his job, or due diligence if you will, the taxpayers would not be saddled with additional court fees on top of the already unauthorized $50,000+ fees used to hire the retired judge. But this is Greenburgh, where the king can simple tax his serfs and announce, “Good news! The Town has a Aaa bond rating!” A face-value statement that plays well with the uninformed but really doesn’t much matter for the Town.

Now the latest political football to be dished out by Mr Feiner is that of class warfare between the EIC and what Mr Feiner claims is their bias against the Theodore D. Young Community Center (TDYCC). Having attended just about every EIC public meeting, ABG can attest to several facts: they have always been open to questions and provided answers when asked; have always said that they wish to continue supporting the TDYCC should incorporation go through; that they prefer to control their locales zoning destiny and that they are seeking to self-govern. In fact, the poor behavior Mr Feiner has exhibited during all of this has highlighted exactly why they seek to jettison their community from the Town and become a Village.

In an interview with Dave McKay Wilson, Mr Feiner said “…that some Edgemont residents, whom he declines to name, have complained to him for decades about paying property taxes to support the Town’s Theodore D. Young Community Center.” This is a typical ploy used by Mr Feiner when frankly, he’s got nothing to back his arguments. Another tactic is to throw out numbers that haven’t been calculated, vetted or studied with proof to back them.

The TDYCC is located in Fairview and provides social services and recreational and arts programs. The Finneran law was passed specifically for Greenburgh and requires that recreational programs be funded by property taxes from the town’s unincorporated area and user fees. The biggest problem with this is that the village residents can use them while Unincorporated residents cannot avail themselves of Village programs.

Mr Feiner also said, “One of the underlying reasons they want to incorporate is that Edgemont doesn’t want to pay what they’ve been paying for the Theodore Young Center,” Feiner told Tax Watch. “I’ve talked to people in Edgemont over the years. It has come up hundreds of times. And I think it’s a class issue."

Edgemont Incorporation Committee leader Jeff Sherwin said Feiner’s allegations were without merit. “He’s making baseless allegations, but referring to unknown people,” said Sherwin. “He did it to cover up a policy of more than 30 years that supports the very allegation he is making against us. It’s deplorable he'd make those allegations against his own residents without any data to support it.”

Couple this with Mr Feiner’s stranglehold over Democratic State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who is once again seeking to introduce legislation (along with State Senator Stewart-Cousins in the Senate) to steal Greenburgh residents rights to vote to help out his friend. In one of his classic moves, Abinanti tried introducing legislation at 3AM before the Albany break, to make the Town of Greenburgh Board the ONLY municipality in New York State with the power to reject the incorporation petition based on the adverse effect a new village might have on the Town. 

You’ll recall Mr Abinanti asked Mr Feiner to not approve the Fortress Bible Church land use development in his backyard when he lived next to their recently purchased property. Mr “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” Abinanti subsequently moved to the Village of Tarrytown to enjoy the protections afforded that villages residents. Mr Feiner was subsequently sued and found guilty in federal court of lying under oath, destroying evidence and discrimination against a church! The fine for Mr Feiner accommodating Mr Abinanti was $6.5 million. Here’s a class issue if ever there were one! (Ironically, a total lack of class).

What Mr Feiner never mentions, except to say, “No!” is what can be done to offset the budget “crisis” that an Edgemont incorporation might bring. The EIC has consistently said they wish to contract services from the Town. Mr Feiner said, “No!” Residents have asked if the Board has come up with any contingencies should incorporation go through? “No!” At a Town Board meeting residents asked specific questions to see if the Board had sat down with the EIC? “No!” Asked why, Mr Jones parroted Mr Feiner saying the EIC is a non-legal entity and that’s why. Why not just stick out their tongues and say, “Na, na,na-na na!”

The Theodore D Young Community Center, perhaps a recreational center, perhaps not, has a $4 million budget. A successful Edgemont incorporation might affect its ability to operate as it currently does. Unfortunately, Mr Feiner is making it a political football as he did with the Greenburgh Town library. You’ll recall he withheld money to use as leverage over the library Board forcing its closure on weekends – the time when most kids who would need the library are available to go to it. 

He’s doing that again with the TDYCC and trying to create a class war that isn’t real between two communities. Shame on him! We too are concerned about the negative effects on Unincorporated Greenburgh should the EIC prevail. Yet, we envy Edgemont’s ability to try to get out from under the horrible management of this administration. Edgemont is the first real crack in the Feiner infrastructure while Rome is burning. It needs to change town-wide, only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

HNA Sponsors Tax Watch Columnist Presentation

The Highview Elementary school auditorium saw about 50 people attend the Hartsdale Neighbors Association meeting which featured David McKay Wilson as the guest speaker.

Prior to Wilson speaking, there was a brief presentation about food scrap recycling. The two women showed a small scrap container you can use in your kitchen for daily recycling and then a slightly larger one that would collect about three weeks worth of scraps. Lined with biodegradable liners, these would accumulate in the larger container that you would bring and drop off at a location at Anthony Veteran Park. Flyers were also handed out explaining the program along with an email sign-up sheet.

Wilson gave a brief description of himself and recounted a good number of stories he had worked on in and about Greenburgh. After being away from Greenburgh for about seven years, he returned to write his first story exposing the contaminated landfill that was installed at the Woodlands High School. That story ultimately led to an investigation which resulted in a jail sentence for the offender as well as remediation of the field. Town Attorney Tim Lewis, the Town's defacto environmental faux-expert, was not involved with cost-analysis with this event. Wilson also discussed the WestHelp debacle created initially by then HUD Chairman, current governor Andrew Cuomo. He talked about the scheme cooked up for the Town to get the lease money from those apartments and the illegal payoffs that Mr Feiner was making to the Valhalla School Board.

The night was to be a discussion of taxes. So, after Wilson completed his introduction, he proceeded to talk about what he had learned from various experts about what was on the horizon. He commented that 27% of the Town Taxes were from Edgemont. And, now that the judge has ruled Mr Feiner's decision to not allow the elections as incorrect, the vote for Edgemont incorporation can proceed. While good news for Edgemont residents, it may not be so good for the rest of the Unincorporated Town.

This discussion renewed talk of a Hartsdale incorporation as well. Since Mr Feiner has positioned himself in favor of the Villages, something we don't believe would be the case with the Village of Edgemont, he would have major budgetary issues in the Town should Hartsdale also look to control their own destiny in a similar fashion.

One comment that Wilson made was that the new IRS tax plan should not negatively affect most people in Greenburgh and Hartsdale. He clarified this by saying that the polarized political pundits are saying how bad it will be but the experts he's been speaking and meeting with are saying the opposite. He seemed to feel that the greatest impact with it will be in the real estate market.

Ultimately, the high-end market could suffer the most as the property tax deductions will change, allowing for only the first $10k in taxes to be deducted. As such, it will probably make selling a high-end home more difficult. It may also find sellers lowering their asking price to be able to make the sale. This same scenario could force an increase in the rental market. Consequently, the incentive to own might be less.

The discussion turned toward affordable, low income and Section 8 housing. It is also believed that affordable housing could suffer as the tax incentives most developers utilize will not be as great. An unrelated example that Wilson mentioned was illegal housing and that Governor Cuomo, who lives with his girlfriend Sandra Lee, never filed or paid for renovation permits to their home in Chappaqua. The irony is that the Town Tax Assessor revalued their home to a higher value.

Wilson finally discussed the taxation schemes that our current crop of legislators are trying to implement both to attack President Trump and to help people who might be severely and/or negatively impacted by this tax plan. He reiterated that most people are probably not going to be negatively impacted by it. What was never discussed were any plans by these same legislators to lower NY State taxes to help keep people here, to help keep businesses here and to help to make New York competitive again. It would behoove the Town to be leaders and start to lower fees(taxes), regulations(taxes), and taxes to make Greenburgh more competitive for businesses. We don't need more low income, affordable, Section 8, workforce and other housing that will not change the paradigm. We need creative ideas from different people. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.