Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee Invites Phone Calls

In addition to the opportunities to speak about the Second Draft of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 1:00-4:00 p.m. and 7:00-10:00 p.m.at Greenburgh Town Hall, the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee (CPSC) has arranged for 914-989-1538 to be staffed during the hearing for those interested in calling in questions or comments instead of attending.  

We hope everyone who can attend the April 28 meeting attends either the afternoon or evening session so we may hear the comments and begin considering them.  However, today we were able to relocate a scheduled group and free up the Town Hall auditorium on May 14, 2015, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m., at which time the Committee will continue tomorrow's hearing to accommodate those who have scheduling conflicts on April 28.  

Written comments are also welcome up to two weeks after the Public Hearing is closed.  They may be sent to PlanZone@GreenburghNY.com.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Francis Sheehan, Councilman
Chair, Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee

Monday, April 27, 2015

Public Hearing on Draft Comprehensive Plan

A Public Hearing will be held to discuss the Draft Comprehensive Plan at Greenburgh Town Hall on Tuesday, April 28th at 1:00-4:00 PM and 7:00-10:00PM.

One of the guiding principles in the Draft Comprehensive Plan is to “preserve the character of existing residential neighborhoods”.

This is important because the Town's zoning codes must follow the Comprehensive Plan according to New York State law.

Please attend the Public Hearing and ask the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee to protect our residential neighborhoods. This is your opportunity to offer input toward the direction we want our Town to proceed with zoning, development, “flavor”, etc.

If you cannot attend, you can email your opinion to the Steering Committee:
planzone@greenburghny.com 
or call (914) 989-1538 on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 from 1-4PM or 7-10PM.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I Can Do This Forever

Do what? Jerk the tax-paying residents around until they get exhausted? Mr Feiner may not say this, but he certainly practices it. He continues to hand-hold any developer interested in building in the Town as they submit their project(s) for approval. He does this by having his Town Board vote to be the Lead Agency on every project put forth that he favors. We imagine he gets fed up at times and says to himself, “When are they going to learn and stop interfering with my plans? I can’t be voted out of office because no other party will put up a candidate to run against me. Hell, even the Democrats couldn’t beat me! I just wear them all down. I can do this forever!”

Two years and five months ago, as well as five years ago, issues came to the forefront that Mr Feiner has still not acted upon. Nor has the Town Board. These issues, completely unrelated and very different, highlight the tenacity of Mr Feiner when he wants something and meets with resistance. He will fight whomever is against him simply because they are against him. Think rope-a-dope.
 

Two years ago, ABG attended an Edgemont Civic Association (ECC) meeting at Edgemont High School. An Edgemont resident in attendance got up and voiced his opinion about how many massage parlors were opening in the Town of Greenburgh and Edgemont in particular. He asked for that Association’s assistance in helping to close them. Some of the reasons included the clientele, possible sexual slavery, prostitution, unlicensed massage “therapists” as well as other issues were highlighted and made for a compelling argument against them. More immediately, he was concerned for his young daughters being exposed to this when they went to a nearby or adjacent business.
 

Robert Bernstein, an Edgemont resident, attorney and ECC President, along with Community Activist Ella Preiser and others, drafted a bill that would give the Greenburgh Police Department real teeth in going after these establishments. If they were legitimate, they would have nothing to fear. If not, the Police, Fire and Building Departments would have the ability to close them down. Publicly Mr Feiner said he was against the massage parlors. But is he? His actions, or lack of, belie what he says. Another Feiner tactic.

We imagine he told Town Clerk Beville to slap together some kind of meeting about sex trafficking, invite the usual suspects and he’d send it out on the GBList to make it seem like they really cared. We wonder if anyone has questioned his use of the GBList since Worthington Woodlands Civic Association President Dorrine Livson had sued the Town under an Article 78 for access to the GBList and won? We also imagine his response to be, “Just do as I say and let me worry about the GBList and Livson.” Emails sent.
 

So did he line up the players in a closeted session, possibly including Town Clerk Beville, Town Attorney Lewis, newbie Commissioner of Planning Garrett Duquesne and maybe a Town Board member or two? We imagine he gave them their marching orders: “Anything Bob Bernstein submits must get lost, discarded, proven useless or simple fought to stall for time. I need this to go away and if you all value your jobs, you’ll do as I say!” Hence, the apparent unending opposition by Attorney Tim Lewis, in particular, as he protects his meal ticket against Mr Bernstein’s proposed bill.

We believe the relentless verbal pounding Mr Lewis was receiving at every meeting by residents regarding his resistance to Mr Bernstein's bill probably forced Mr Feiner to develop an alternate plan or two (or three) in case Mr Lewis caved. The next step was to have the bill delivered to the Planning Board, who we’ve now learned are unqualified to write legislation. ABG wonders if Town Attorney Lewis instructed the Planning Board to "take their time" and stall this bill by formally asking the NYS Attorney General’s office to review it. That request was rejected by the NYS Attorney's office but succeeded to stall the bill for another 5-months, providing the Town Board the ability to say they are awaiting an answer from the state and cannot discuss the matter further. T
he Planning Board created their own law so now there are two versions to be decided upon. Mr Bernstein keeps asking to meet with the board members to discuss it but they keep ignoring him. ABG believes this was nothing more than another stall tactic by Mr Feiner. Remember, he can do this forever.

Then we come to the Zoning Change Proposal that will negatively impact the entire Town. The Town Board is split on the request made by Mr Feiner's friends from GameOn 365. This started five years ago when Mr Feiner sought to illegally hand the property over to Martin Hewitt, project manager for GameOn 365, for the proverbial “song”. When a threatened lawsuit halted that folly, Mr Feiner announced a referendum, which was carefully worded to ensure its passage. In the meantime, the Federal Courts rendered a guilty verdict 
against Mr Feiner and certain people on his Town Boards of violating the civil rights of the Fortress Bible Church, including Ardsley’s Diana Juettner, a current Town Councilwoman.

So with all of the back and forth about how to get the former Frank’s Nursery property to the GameOn 365 paper organization, Mr Feiner has launched his campaign, being their most committed cheerleader. The property is still suffering from numerous contaminants and requests by residents for the Town to remediate it were met with blank stares and Mr Lewis’ assurances that the remediation would cost no more than $100k. Hah! The study alone cost more than that and it was a truncated one at that. The auction specialist the Town hired to auction off the property ultimately said the Town must make the property whole before anyone would bid on it. Huh? That’s exactly what the residents had said!

A number of years ago the Town, under Mr Feiner, tried to take over the Visioli’s Golf Driving Range on Dobbs Ferry Road. Now he professes that he is trying to save it. Our guess is he suggested to Mr Hewitt that he try to purchase all of it or at least some of the Visioli property as they were in tax arrears and instead of a bubble, offer a fixed structure. Whether or not this conjecture is true remains a mystery, but the relentless actions by Mr Feiner to try to make GameOn 365’s proposal come to fruition are alarmingly suspect. However, the issue isn’t about GameOn 365’s proposal, per se. Rather, it is about changing the zoning to allow commercial entities to invade residential neighborhoods. Remember, he can do this forever.

It is truly a difficult thing to start and even sustain a business. We see area businesses shuttered in Greenburgh, the County and the State all too often. In fact, ABG staffers were at a meeting where the owners of Smashburger were seeking additional signs for an "under-performing" location. We thought they were in good shape. Apparently not. It’s the one in the shopping center with Shoprite on Central Avenue. You know the one, they want to add two more buildings utilizing existing parking spaces - the latest craze from town and urban planners. Could it be that Smashburger is under performing (read: losing money) because it is already so difficult to find a parking space anywhere near your intended location unless you were born into it? We don’t want to see this zoning change. We want to see businesses operate in the appropriately zoned area for it. Only then we will see A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fairview Golf Driving Range To Close


It has been known for months but Mr Feiner has chosen not to use the information as ammunition in his goal to help his friends, GameOn 365, but we’re confident he will. He’s fought the urge to blurt out at a Town Board meeting about the other golf driving range in Town closing. Instead, he’s tried to put the onus upon the Dobbs Ferry Road area residents, claiming the Visioli’s Golf Driving Range on Dobbs Ferry Road could close. GameOn 365 and Mr Feiner, with Board members Morgan and Jones, are ignoring the area neighborhoods and simply brushing aside their concerns. They are still, after five years, seeking to build something, anything, on Dobbs Ferry Road in hopes of “cashing in” on the lucrative sports market. Their building can be inflatable, fixed, it doesn’t matter. But, according to Mr Feiner, it must be there and it must be now.

As has been well known in the community circles, the Fairview Golf Driving Range, with two miniature golf ranges, is scheduled to close its 300 Waterside Drive location, this Friday on April 24th. It was located in the industrial complex since 1994 across from the Westchester Skating Academy ice rink facility – a commercial entity in a commercially zoned area. The Dobbs Ferry Road driving range facility has been in existence longer. One notable difference is the Fairview Golf Driving Range facility always paid their Town taxes. 

Sporting a double-decker structure with a pro shop inside, the heated “booths” provided a year-round practice facility with practicality and comfort. While we are always sad to see any business close their doors, we see this as Mr Feiner’s next argument at future Town Board meetings as he continues to stump for GameOn 365, but not for the Fairview Golf Driving Range. We envision the argument to almost tearfully be, perhaps performed by character actors from a nearby deli, “We must not lose this treasure, this icon, this multi-generational business as we attempt to completely pave this area into a sports corridor. We must save the driving range. GameOn 365’s proposal does that.” Actually it does not.

Fed Ex, located behind the Fairview Golf Driving Range facility, has submitted an application to build a new distribution center. The Town Board has already approved the FedEx expansion onto the 27-acre site occupied by the golf driving range. Variances were granted in February to increase the height of the building and outdoor lights. Situated here, it will not interfere with any residential neighborhoods. The application also involves subdivision approval from the Planning Board and a special permit from the Town Board so that a new road can be built within the industrial park. The road would be deeded to the Town and connect to Fieldcrest Drive to the north.

In part, this FedEx expansion onto previously unpaved surface, will increase the amount of impervious space for that area and cause more water to drain off into the Saw Mill River and the businesses and homes along the Route 9A corridor. Additionally, just north of this location will be the 100-acre development of a box store, strip mall, movie theatre and whatever else is planned at the Landmark at Eastview. It only promises to increase the amount of water flowing downhill. Not much concern is given by our Town Board and Mr Feiner’s hand-picked appointees sitting on his other Boards to the over-development of every inch of land in Unincorporated Greenburgh. It has to stop before unincorporated Greenburgh resembles the worst of the Bronx. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Game On 365’s Plans Set a Dangerous Precedent in Town of Greenburgh

On April 8 the Greenburgh Town Board held a meeting to hear the views of residents (and nonresidents, as it happened) about the proposal by Game On 365 to build and operate a large sporting facility on Dobbs Ferry Road, on the golf-driving range property that, Game On has an option to buy.

The proposal is to build a large building (for indoor sports), which was described by Councilman Francis Sheehan as being the size of the Sam’s Club structure in Elmsford, but more than 60 percent higher. In addition Game On will build an outdoor field and operate other facilities, including physical therapy rooms, a party room, a cafe and a retail store. Readers will remember that Game On had previously tried to build an 80-plus-foot high sports bubble on the Frank’s Nursery site, with Paul Feiner’s strong support, but that proposal failed for a number of reasons, primarily because the town did not legally own the site and the grounds were chemically polluted.

The meeting was emotional and contentious. Residents of the area were angered at the thought of such a commercial behemoth being foisted on them, in the middle of a neighborhood that consists of single-family homes of rather high quality. The golf driving range property is situated on land that is zoned residential single-family housing and operates as a legal nonconforming use because it predated the applicable zoning law.

Game On has requested that the residential zoning be changed to permit a commercial use in order to accommodate the sports facility that it wishes to build. As was to be expected, the neighborhood erupted in opposition. Such a facility - open during the day and into the late evening - with its noise, its late-night lights, its traffic, its appearance, its physical impact on the nearby homes, etc. - would destroy this quiet residential neighborhood and decimate the value of the homes there.

The meeting consisted of arguments pro and con the Game On facility. Those in favor, primarily soccer moms and dads and coaches, cited the benefits of it year-round sports facility. Those opposed cited the very real destructive consequences to the community,

But these were the wrong arguments.

The question of whether this large facility should or should not be in the Dobbs Ferry Road location is the second question to be considered. The first question is whether a 32-acre site in the middle of an area zoned residential should have its zoning changed to permit commercial use. That is a question of great consequence, with enormous implications. And that is a question that needs to be addressed before one considers the impact of a sports facility in that neighborhood. A zoning change is permanent. Game On’s proposed facility is temporary.

Suppose, as one example, that the proposed Game On sports facility is not successful, and has to close. And at some point it will close. Greenburgh, and the neighborhood, are then left with a huge building that allows a number of commercial uses in the middle of a residential neighborhood. The possibility - no, the inevitability - of this building and associated parking being used for other commercial purposes is self-evident.

Or consider another example. If the 32-acre site is zoned to permit cornmercial uses, its value multiplies by several orders of magnitude. The land Game On has an option to buy will immediately greatly increase in Value. Suppose that the Game On owners decide (or have already decided) that instead of risking the investment in a business, they can sell all or part of the property and make a huge windfall profit. They have the power, and perhaps the incentive, to do so.

In either of these eventualities the town will be essentially helpless. It is not difficult to stop a commercial development in a residentially zoned area. But it is difficult to stop a legitimate commercial development on a property already zoned to permit commercial uses. There is no hindsight available. To refuse a commercial developer in an area already zoned to permit commercial uses invites litigation that will be extremely expensive and probably unsuccessful for the town. And it is worth noting that the town board cannot prohibit an applicant from seeking variances horn the Zoning Board of Appeals to expand the permitted commercial uses.

And so I repeat. The question for the town board at this time is not whether the Game On proposal is good or bad. The question is what are the consequence of a change of zoning permitting commercial uses in a residential area, and should the town risk them?

It may help the town board to realize that a change from residential to commercial use is virtually unprecedented. If my memory is correct, it has happened only once in the past 50 or more years. That was when the old Union Carbide property (now Landmark at Eastview) was rezoned from commercial to residential in the 1980s. The property was never developed. At the April 8 meeting the town board held a public hearing on rezoning the property again to commercial.

It was obvious that the residential zoning was inappropriate since the entire area is commercial and therefore the zoning should correspond. But that is the opposite of the Game On situation - there the area is primarily residential except for some old legal nonconforming uses (and as to those. When they discontinue operations only residential development will be permitted) I urge the town board to consider what I call the first question - namely, what are the consequences of a rezoning and can the town risk those consequences? As an afterthought, there are other places in Greenburgh where Game On can build its facility. Landmark at Eastwood representatives have requested, and the town board is prepared to adopt, a zoning change that Would permit indoor/outdoor recreational facilities on the Landmark site, and Game On can easily build their sports facility there, only a short distance away from the Dobbs Ferry Road site. The only reason that Game On persists on the Dobbs Ferry Road site is because Paul Feiner is their advocate. It is past time to do right by the neighborhood of the proposed site, and most of all, do right by the town.

– Herb Rosenberg, Judge, Retired.

This article originally ran in the Scarsdale Inquirer and was submitted by the author.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

JPI Proposing 296 Multi-Family Apartments Jefferson at Saw Mill River


Photo from JPI website

Greenburgh, NY, April 13, 2015—JPI is currently proposing Jefferson at Saw Mill River, a new amenity rich, high quality multifamily apartment community located at One Lawrence Street in Greenburgh. Prior to the submission of an application to the Town, JPI will host an informational Community Open House event for area residents to learn more and provide input about the Jefferson at Saw Mill River. Additional information about the apartment community will be posted on Jefferson at Saw Mill River’s website and will arrive in mailboxes this week as a precursor to the Community Open House.

“JPI looks forward to becoming a welcome neighbor in the Greenburgh community,” said Stephen Hutto, JPI’s Vice President of Development. “We understand the importance of working with the community to develop a project that meets a growing need for a wider variety of housing choices and generates significant revenue for the future benefit for the Schools, Town and County residents.”

The Jefferson aims to bring new energy to a corner of Greenburgh by complementing the Town of Greenburgh Draft Comprehensive Plan’s overall vision for a vibrant Southern Research and Development node. To help facilitate this vision, JPI will spend several million dollars cleaning up environmental contamination left on the site as a result of its historical use as a chemical plant by Azko Nobel and others. By bringing this property up to the highest residential standards, the long dormant, contaminated land will provide much needed access to diverse rental housing to those working for target STEM and biotech employers in Southern and Central Westchester County.

“We want the community to know that we are listening,” Hutto remarked. “We invite area residents to attend our Community Open House to learn about the data supporting the fact this apartment community is a win-win for Greenburgh and the surrounding community.”

Jefferson at Saw Mill River’s Community Open House event will be held on Wednesday April 22, 2015 at Life…The Place to Be (2 Lawrence Street, Ardsley). All community members are welcome to stop by anytime during the event hours of 6-8 p.m. to learn more about the traffic improvements, environmental cleanup, new streams of revenue and more that will result from Jefferson at Saw Mill River.

For more information about Jefferson at Saw Mill River, please visit www.jeffersonsawmill.com or find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffersonsawmill.

About JPI

JPI is a national developer, builder and investment manager of Class A multifamily assets in select US markets headquartered in Texas with offices in Arizona, New York and California. With over a 20-year history of successful developments throughout the major US markets and an unparalleled depth of industry specific experience, JPI stands among the most active privately held real estate companies in the country. JPI's executive leadership team has an average of 25 years of comprehensive experience in multifamily developments ranging from low density garden apartments, mid to high density wrap and podium projects, student living housing projects and mixed use high rise developments. The firm offers investment management, pre-development, underwriting, marketing and asset management services as well as construction, financial and administrative services. To learn more about JPI, please visit www.jpi.com.


Contact: Greg Belew
Managing Regional Partner-Eastern Region
Phone: 212-660-0250
info@jeffersonsawmill.com

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

No Confidence In Process After Supervisor Speaks

It is not a surprise to anyone who follows Greenburgh politics that the proverbial “deck” is stacked against the residents by our Town administration. Ironically, while it is technically the “Feiner Administration”, it’s certainly not a “finer” administration – in fact, it’s far from it. The Town Board and in particular Mr Feiner, knowing the media would be present at its previous Wednesday night meeting, began to use words like honest, honestly, honesty, confidence, the process and so on quite often as well as conjunctively! Media-savvy Mr Feiner took the lead and his re-election teammates ran with it. Regardless of what Mr Feiner and half the Town Board says, every resident we spoke to gave a vote of “No Confidence” with this administration. Don’t lose sight of this one simple fact: this is about changing zoning in residential neighborhoods to allow commercial businesses.

Always the behind-the-scenes operative, Mr Feiner sent an email to Dorrine Livson, President of the Worthington Woodlands Civic Association, who felt it should be seen by all and has no problem sharing information. You may recall that Ms Livson asked for the GBList from Mr Feiner and the Town through the Freedom of Information Law and was denied the request. She appealed to the same Town Board denying the request because, well, here is another convoluted process with which the public has no confidence. Not surprisingly her appeal was also denied – by the same people she was requesting the information from!

Sadly, while Mr Feiner has no intention of releasing the GBList to Ms Livson and is comfortable disobeying another court order, he has no compunction about using the coveted GBList for a non-Greenburgh civic association from Yonkers. This association borders Mr Feiner’s gated community and would have affected his home value and quality of life. Do as I say, not as I do? Here’s a copy of that email:

Click on the email to enlarge















With no other recourse, Ms Livson filed an Article 78 with the courts to seek justice for both Town Board refusals of the information requested. She was victorious. However, now as another stall tactic, the Town says they are appealing her court victory. Regardless of that outcome, here is the latest email Mr Feiner sent to Ms Livson:
Dear Dorrine,
I know that you and I have some differences re: the appropriateness of the Board commencing a traffic and environmental study of the Game On application. However- the Board made the decision. It's time to move on and have an honest, unbiased review of the application and the impact the facility will have on the community - if it is approved.
 

We are going to be issuing a request for proposals. And then will interview the possible consultants before making a decision.

I want to work with you and your association members during the review process. And, also want to reassure you that I have not made up my mind how I will vote on this application.

Thanks for your comments and participation.
Paul


Several points we’d like to make with regards to this email. First, while it may seem innocuous enough by itself, there is an underlying message of pomposity and certainly one of non-respect for the community. Second, and possibly most importantly is that he is now claiming “the Board” did this. The vote is split 2 for the proposal and 2 against the proposal with Mr Feiner casting the deciding vote. It is well known in Greenburgh politics that if a Board member seeks re-election, they must tow Mr Feiner’s line or be “Sonya’d”*. Don’t lose sight of this one simple fact: this is about changing zoning in residential neighborhoods to allow commercial businesses.

Mr Feiner has never been objective when it comes to the GameOn 365 application. For almost 5 years now, he has been GameOn 365’s biggest cheerleader. From an illegal lease, ignoring higher offers for the former Frank’s Nursery property, to now wasting time on an application that should not be entertained. His actions, to be honest (his phrase) show his true self. He has mandated by his and his two colleague’s actions by voting to intend to become the lead agency actually initiates this process for this proposal for an approximately 107,000 sq. ft. indoor recreation facility along with an outdoor playing field, while retaining a reduced portion of the existing golf driving range, and provide related features such as landscaping and parking. Again for the uninitiated, he promised his friend the deal and he plans to deliver! The issue is becoming clouded by Mr Feiner’s deflection in making this about the GameOn 365’s proposed sports mega-plex. It’s not! It’s about changing residential zoning to allow commercial enterprises in residential neighborhoods. Don’t lose sight of this as Mr Feiner will continue his deflection technique.

How do we know this is nothing more than a confidence (con) scheme? Simple. Here’s an email we received by accident back in 2012 from Martin Hewitt (GO365 principle) to Mr Feiner cautioning to not send emails as they could be FOILed. Note the portion that says, “...first breach that could be FOIL’d that may tip Donald off...” Donald, by the way, is one of the owners of Elm Street Sports in Ardsley, NY, operating the House of Sports facility. Here’s that email:

Click on the email to enlarge















At this week’s Town Board meeting, two Board members and Mr Feiner agreed to to start the review process of the application for a zone change to allow a recreation facility to be built on Dobbs Ferry Road by declaring their intent to become the Lead Agency (the first step) for this project. So, regardless of Mr Feiner’s posturing (lying?), the process has begun under the guise of a non-committal intent, foisting a traffic study (the second step) upon us – residents be damned! He’s begun his rope-a-dope as he fosters more misinformation to anyone who will listen. Here’s a sampling of it: The Town Board will hire a traffic expert to conduct a traffic study.; we will analyze the traffic impacts and the environmental/quality of life impacts in communities that have similar Sports facilities. Under New York State law the applicant (Game On) pays for the consultant costs. But, the Town Board selects the consultant. So what? Don’t lose sight of this one simple fact: this is about changing zoning in residential neighborhoods to allow commercial businesses.

Mr Feiner is technically correct how he has phrased this next sentence. “The Town Board did not approve any application this week. We just started the review process”. What this really means is they have initiated the first step of the review process which is what would happen if they had sat up there and said they were declaring themselves the Lead Agency. It’s semantics and deflection to keep the average, uninformed residents guessing. What does this mean for the average Greenburgh citizen? Simply, don't stand to close to the tracks, you might get hurt as this train won’t slow down as it approaches the station. This favored method of operation by the Town Board has to change. Only when residents no longer feel as though they are being railroaded will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Confidence in the Process or Confidence Game?

This past Wednesday night's Town Board meeting found the main auditorium unusually packed with standing room only. Obviously, there was something controversial on the agenda. It seems to be the only time people come out, otherwise providing free reign and uncontrolled hubris from the Town Board. Both sides were represented although the neighborhood representation was easily two-to-one against this controversial proposal: a requested Zoning Change on Dobbs Ferry Road at the Golf Driving Range. Nearby, the former Frank's Nursery continues to languish after having had an offer Mr Feiner turned down for twice as much as the offer from his friends.

Tensions as well as emotions ran high and was palpable in the cramped room, where the coveted seats in the back of the room were at a premium for comfort and semi-working ceiling speakers. While some people in attendance may have been there purely for entertainment, the constant of the failed sound system and uncomfortable seating would make tonight's events more a gladiator sport than a standard Town Board session where the political locomotive screams through the agenda at breakneck speed with a constant hum of yay votes. However, most were probably there in hopes of either stopping or advancing this zoning change depending on where they live. 

The affected residents of the area immediately spoke one after another, stating their street address and the amount of years they have resided in the area. Some spoke of being there since they were kids. One man bragged to have lived there since 1960, yet pronounced Mr Feiner's name incorrectly as "Feener". Could he simply be another out-of-town supporter asked to speak in favor of the zoning change? In fact, the opposition, if and when they gave an address, simply stated the Villages they were from - sometimes west of the Hudson! Several people from outside the Town said they hunger for soccer fields and this was the answer they supported. They asked the Town Board to not deny them the opportunity to kick their balls in our neighborhood. Frankly, we're tired of having our balls kicked by people from outside our Town.

Corridor residents said Wednesday night that the proposal should be killed this night. Mr Feiner had continued his ruse of indecision claiming he "honestly wanted the facts" to make an informed decision. This year's buzz term from Town Hall finds several interchangeable phrases: "I honestly haven't made a decision yet"; "We want people to have confidence in the process"; "I am honestly listening to the community"; "we need to become the lead agency so we can have the studies done to make an informed decision"; "We all want to do the right thing". The list is almost endless. By the way, last year's preferred phrase was, "We need to do our due diligence". Predictably, last year's phrase and promises were just another promise not kept. These new phrases already ring hollow. Confidence or confidence game?

Mr Feiner says, "The applicant has proposed a facility – that doesn’t mean that the town will give them permission to do what they want. We may reject the entire application or modify it. If citizens got involved and were willing to have a discussion the size of the building could be discussed." Because the Town Board is split with Messrs. Morgan and Jones siding with Mr Feiner, and the other two against, the first line is not true. They plan to give them exactly what they are asking for. The second line is laughable as this Board never rejects or modifies any developer proposal for any neighborhood - until they are threatened with court actions. Finally, he practically admits this project is going to be approved by saying, "If citizens got involved and were willing to have a discussion the size of the building could be discussed." So the issue is not that he hasn't made a decision, he has. It's not that he is listening to the neighbors, he's not. Now the issue is controlling the size of it. The devil is always in the details.

He continues, "I think it would be horrible for the corridor to replace the golf range –beautiful open space-with development and cement." Huh? Isn't the zoning proposal designed to do just that, put a development with concrete and blacktop aka impervious space, onto open space? Then he wants neighbors to discuss options for the golf driving range as if its viability rests with them. It does not. It rests with no one but the Visioli family - not the neighbors, not Paul Feiner nor the Town Board. Plus, with the newly uncovered lawsuit against the Visioli family and the golf driving range for a different contamination of the property causes ABG to believe this may soon all be moot. However, we're also convinced that Mr Feiner will find a way to skirt the taxpaying residents' objections either legally or illegally. Past performance IS an indicator of future results with this Town Board - hence the lie: "We want people to have confidence in the process". 

And don't be confused or amazed when you hear about the two proposals off of Payne Street and in Ardsley to which the Town Board said , "No." Mr Feiner stated that these proposals should not even be considered as they would strain our already over-burdened infrastructure (the same one he's neglected during these past 22-years). ABG believes those were throwaway proposals concocted to give Mr Feiner et al, the opportunity to seem to care (about his Ardsley voting base) and the north Elmsford area. Not only was there never any plans for them to proceed, but one would be in Mr Morgan's backyard and the other in Ms Juettner's. The proposal on Dobbs Ferry Road estimates 7,000 gallons of liquid waste a day and five thousand cars per weekend. How is that not taxing our over-taxed and under-maintained infrastructure?

Mr Feiner has also said, "During the review process we could discuss aesthetics, every option for the property. I want people to have confidence in the process. If there is unified opposition to the project, the chances of the project being approved are slim. On the other hand – there has been some misinformation spread about the application –and virtually no give and take." The first sentence is a throw-away to placate the uninformed or willfully ignorant residents. The second is a lie as no one except the developers have confidence in the process. The third line is the ultimate slap in the neighborhood's collective faces indicating he plans to proceed. There has only been unified support against the zoning change since it's inception 5-years ago. His comment that, "Chances of the project being approved is slim" is simply a lie. Mr Feiner just hasn't figured out a way to get over on the community for his friends. Finally, the only misinformation that has been spread was by Mr Feiner and Mr Hewitt and his operatives.

Throughout the night Mr Feiner, "We want people to have confidence in the process". No he doesn't. He wants people to leave him alone to do as he pleases. This is more and more shaping up to be a confidence game over confidence in the system. But the mainstream media will feature the above quote and the headline reading public will buy into it. It is better than any con-man could hope for. So as he reshapes Unincorporated Greenburgh into the worst of the Bronx, taxpayers need to be heard now and listened to closely. These same people are seeking re-election and will get 7-9,000 votes by those party faithful who won't decide its time to think differently and just say, "No.". Rather, they'll shrug their shoulders and mandate more of the same, allowing them to act with impunity. We certainly don't have confidence in that system. BTW, ABG believes this will be postponed until after the elections. The proposal will then go through and the public will forget how they got screwed again. We agree with the Greenburgh Council of Civic Associations who always says if its done in one neighborhood, it will happen in another. It's time to stop this madness. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Milton Hoffman, Longtime Greenburgh Resident Passes

Milton Hoffman, a long time Greenburgh resident, passed away today. His passing was very sudden. The service will be at the Hebrew Institute in White Plains on Greenridge Avenue at 10am for anyone who would like to attend.  Shiva arrangements are being planned and not currently available. We presume they will be at the Hoffman home at 66 Lawrence Drive, White Plains. 

Milt was no only a longtime Greenburgh resident, but had recently retired as an Editor at the Journal News, formerly of White Plains. More recently he had gotten involved with trying to force a consolidation of fire departments and fire services with two of the three paid fire districts. 

Our sympathies, prayers and well wishes go out to the Hoffman family and friends.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Parsing Words To Disrespect Residents' Wishes

Many residents have sent letters/emails/comments to Mr Feiner stating that they are against the GameOn 365 proposal and cannot believe Mr Feiner is still entertaining this proposal for a commercial, for-profit (not that it would matter if it were not-for-profit) start up company desperately seeking investors. Mr Feiner was found guilty of illegally stopping the Fortress Bible Church from building a school and church on their property on the other side of the street from this proposal's location. Mr Feiner said he is not in favor of Fortress Bible because of the increased traffic the church and school would generate. What changed? Only that his friend Tom moved to Tarrytown and is no longer complaining about FBC moving into his backyard. This proposal is no different.

And still, Councilman Ken Jones insists he hasn't heard any negative comments about the proposal. It's the old saw, say it often enough and people will believe it. Sadly, while Mr Jones openly flaunts this position, he attended a meeting over a year ago at the Westchester View Lane homes and stood in a resident's driveway surrounded by many neighbors who live nearby, hearing (but obviously not listening) from everyone there. They all said openly, politely but firmly that they opposed the project! 

Let's momentarily discuss semantics of what this means. We're sure that Mr Jones, an attorney, is willing to parse words and say the opposition he heard on that day was about a bubble being proposed, not a permanent five-story-warehouse-sized building on the Golf Range property. He subsequently met with residents of the Secor Homes' neighborhood including two Civic Association Presidents who all steadfastly objected to the zoning change and the GameOn 365 proposal. There's not much wiggle-room.

Many believe the former Frank's Nursery was closed and abandoned initially because of the contamination on the property and more about the high costs associated with remediating it, even way back then. In fact, the Town Board did what is does best when confronted with real problems. They ignored it. So is Mr Jones deluding himself or towing Mr Feiner's "company line" saying he's in favor of the proposal because he hasn't heard any objections? The three "yes' votes to move this process forward, while disappointing, are frankly, expected. More interesting than the cost of remediation for this property, was Town Attorney Tim Lewis' declaration and assurance that remediation would cost no more than $100k, and yet nothing was done to make the property whole and salable.

Also interesting is the Town Board's cavalier attitude toward the significant revenue stream that could be generated in taxes if the former Frank's Nursery property was remediated and single family homes were built similar to Westchester View Lane's homes. Just the Golf Range space allotted to GameOn 365's proposal could generate upwards of just under $1 million dollars a year in tax revenue! Combine that with a properly remediated Frank's Nursery property and we would easily clear over a million dollars in tax revenue a year for the Town, the school district and fire district, etc. That income would go a long way toward paying down the $6.5 million penalty of Mr Feiner's guilty verdict of discrimination against the Fortress Bible Church.

Many of the Towns Civic Association's agree that landowners should be able to reasonably do what they want with a property. However, numerous considerations, such as zoning, traffic, safety, existing neighbors, Comprehensive Plans etc., must be a part of the decision making process for their developments. By circumventing these factors and making a decision on behalf of friends or worse still, because something is in it for them (and we have no evidence indicating this is the case), has befallen many politicians who got very comfortable doing as they pleased as their political tenure increased. After 22-years, we're sure Mr Feiner has gotten too comfortable.

ABG maintains Mr Feiner and his Board are not conforming to the spirit, the intent or the legality of the rules and regulations the Town has in place for development in Unincorporated Greenburgh. A portion of the Town Board follows his mandates in lock-step and for their own political expediency - go along to get along. Why else would they disrespect the residents? In a private meeting we attended held within the Town, a resident asked us, "What's in it for (Mr) Feiner? Why would he blatantly disrespect us?" No one could not furnish a satisfactory answer.

This project promises to build and pave over roughly 20 to 25 acres of pervious property. Why is this significant? First, they proposed to use septic if possible for approximately 7,000 gallons of liquid waste a day. Second, a facility this size generating this much waste cannot rely on septic and will need to be plumbed into the existing plumbing infrastructure. ABG is concerned about water runoff, which already affects this site, the surrounding neighborhood and the easily flooded 9A corridor. We're sure the developers will promise to build cisterns, dry wells and whatever it takes to satisfy the minimal Town Boards softball questions regarding flood mitigation. More important is that runoff water will be directed into the already over-burdened and usually saturated Saw Mill River and the 9A corridor. But once the Town Board makes itself the Lead Agency for the project, all answers to questions such as flooding, increased traffic, lighting, etc., will be moot and summarily dismissed.

The Town Board will be voting to become the lead agency this week on April 8th. Officially the meeting has a start time. But when something controversial is broached, Mr Feiner will pad the meeting with tributes, poetry readings, recognition awards and other useful devices to discourage the public from remaining and /or participating in the events. Once this topic comes up on the agenda, Mr Feiner will state that they cannot make an informed decision and they must make themselves the Lead Agency so they can have the traffic study, the environmental and other studies completed to help them in the decision-making process. Don't believe that for a second! There is no legal requirement for them to become the Lead Agency nor run any studies. They have the legal authority to dismiss this request. But will they? Your presence is required to help them see the light. Only then will we have A Better Greenburgh.