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.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Village of Edgemont Edges Closer To Incorporation

After being unnecessarily delayed, the seekers of an Edgemont incorporation may finally get their chance to vote for just that: incorporation. Judge Susan Cacace issued a decision against Mr Feiner’s decision that disqualified the resident’s petition signatures to incorporate. Once he issued his original decision and invalidated their petition, Mr Feiner did what he always does to attract publicity and delay the inevitable. He said what he always does, “If you don't like what I’m doing, sue me.” And, once again, they did.

This lawsuit, while considered frivolous by Mr Feiner’s supporters, was far from frivolous. Had Mr Feiner adhered to the law, he would have reviewed the petition signatures, returned his judgment that everything was in order and scheduled the referendum. Instead, he chose to politicize the request from the Edgemont residents and force them to play his games. Before he disqualified the petition, the incorporation momentum didn't stop and he enlisted the “help” from a retired judge. However the real goal behind hiring the judge for $50,000 unauthorized Town dollars was to be able to point a finger at him when the defecation hit the ventilation. And, it did and he did.

The judge, on Mr Feiner's behalf, hired a private investigation firm to scour the Edgemont community and acquire residents' signatures that would actually invalidate their original petition signatures. This seemed like the move of a desperate man - and rightfully so. Numerous attorneys, practicing attorneys, kept explaining to Mr Feiner, his Town Board, supporters and those not fully informed with what was going on, that what he was doing was not only reprehensible, but legally wrong. As he always does, he ignored their advice, refusing to sit down and discuss any of this.

Numerous groups also called upon Mr Feiner to “do the right thing” to no avail. In fact, we cannot recall a time when Mr Feiner actually did the right thing. Unfortunately, his bad behavior and unethical actions cost the Unincorporated taxpayers a fortune unnecessarily. It would be nice to have a Supervisor and Board that was actually looking out for us, the beleaguered resident - sort of like what Edgemont residents are seeking. He now has 45-days to hold a special election for Edgemont.

While Mr Feiner played his games, the Edgemont Incorporation Council (EIC) continued to try to move the equation forward. They drafted a second petition and sought more signatures than they garnered the first time. This time they also dotted their “i’s” and crossed their “t’s” with a renewed vigor and perceptible scrutiny. This time when they submitted the second petition – if required – there would be no wriggle room for Mr Feiner’s games.

Regardless, Mr Feiner took to the media again, having already positioned himself that he was probably going to lose. As an aside, the resident taxpayers have already lost because of him. It’s not just the filing fees, or the unauthorized $50,000 paid to the retired judge. Rather, it’s the fact that so many residents asked him and his Board what they were doing to plan for the Town’s finances should Edgemont be successful and incorporate. Nothing! He and Councilman Jones were vociferous in posturing that they would not do anything and only admitted that layoffs and a loss of services would be the solution. It is not. If the Town contracts services with the new Village of Edgemont, the budget could theoretically remain close to the same as it currently is without layoffs or loss of services. It just would not garner the publicity Mr Feiner graves. 

Many residents throughout the Town asked if they would contract services with the new Village of Edgemont, they arrogantly insisted, “No!” Rather than look to maintain the well-being of the overall Town, they played their selfish games. And, for what reason? It’s hard to say. Obviously the saying about absolute power corrupts can easily be applied here. So now that so much time, money and trust has been wasted, it’s time to finally learn what the entire Edgemont population will do when they vote on the referendum. It’s also time to see if Mr Feiner and his Board will ever “step up to the plate” for the entire Town should the Edgemont incorporation succeed? We hope so; it’s way past time for Mr Feiner and his Board to help to make A Better Greenburgh.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Leadership Remains Stale as Ideas and Creative Thinking Wither

As the Shelbourne assisted living saga continues to drag out with both sides knowing the probable outcome after all of the lawsuits, we’re faced with other construction proposals elsewhere. By the time the public learns of these other projects, we usually uncover that Mr Feiner has had secret meetings with them long before the breath of public knowledge. They pitch their ideas in the corner office, seeking help, advice and strategies. Such was the case with GameOn 365, friends of Mr Feiner who would be positioned by him for a windfall property gain at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, the former Frank’s Nursery property. Regardless of the tactics employed by Mr Feiner, the neighborhoods surrounding the property were able to beat him at his own game, stood united and thwarted the illegal deal he made with them.

Now we have the Shelbourne assisted living proposal that has already visited the halls of justice. Mr Feiner openly stated he was for the assisted living facility before the Edgemont community protested and then he was against it. It also appears that Mr Sheehan has publicly stated he is against the variances that were granted by the Zoning Board of Appeals. You may also recall Mr Sheehan chaired the questionably received Town Comprehensive Plan, making it nothing more than a weak politically correct statement of current events – none of which can be certified scientifically – and not a vision for the Town’s future. It was a golden opportunity whose capital was squandered away for a brief moment of political acknowledgement. Sadly, this seems to be what our past 25 years of stale leadership is providing the Town. If misery loves company, we’ll not alone.

After some 20-years of dormancy, the former General Motors assembly plant site in Sleepy Hollow, seems poised to begin construction of the Edge-on-Hudson mega-development. After completing remediation (none of which Town Attorney Tim Lewis offered to provide estimates for) the below-ground infrastructure needs were addressed. With that completed, vertical construction should finally proceed at an estimated $1billion cost. It is a joint venture between two developers, SunCal of California and Diversified Realty Advisors of Montvale, New Jersey. But what are they proposing to build at the end of Beekman Avenue that Toll Brothers, a Pennsylvania company, will be constructing?

Once again, this mega-development will include 1,177 units of condominiums, townhouses and rental apartments; a 140-room boutique hotel; 135,000 square feet of retail space and 35,000 square feet of office space. This proposal has the hallmarks of touching every issue for any community that entertains a developer’s vision: increased traffic, flooding, increased school enrollment, increased emergency services call volume for police, fire and ambulance, the need for more parking, bus and taxi services, undersized roadways and traffic systems to name a few. They’ll also include millennial favorites such as a state-of-the-art exercise facility, a pool, community room and a coffee shop. There will be limited parking as the developers will insist these same millennials do not drive – usually disproved as the sales and rentals steadily increase. How long will it take before we start seeing For Rent signs in these new vacant retail spaces that becomes the status quo?

Every developer we’ve ever listened to provides a traffic study after their initial proposal utilizing the state’s figures for the size of the development. What it doesn’t account for is the fact that Sleepy Hollow, like all of the other river towns, can only have 180 degrees of access as it has the Hudson River utilizing the other 180 degrees of that travel circle, effectively halving their span of attraction, a factor that all river town businesses suffer from. Consequently, Edge of Hudson begins its struggle with a half-capacity for traffic relief right out of the gate. But, not to worry – millennials don’t own cars or drive. Regardless, the traffic study will reflect what the developer needs it to be: a marginal increase in traffic during the 7am through 9am and the 4pm through 6pm rush hour periods.

Most of the developments nowadays appear to have first floor retail space on most, if not all of their ground floor buildings. Why stay with this staid and non-functioning model if brick-and-mortar retail is dying? It’s simply because first floor units are the least desirable to live in. Hence, the use of the old standby for retail space. So more coffee shops, nail salons, dry cleaners, Subway-like fast food businesses and dollar stores. It’s absurd! Yet community leaders will continue to discuss the changing landscape of retail – while having absolutely no experience or direct knowledge of running a business for profit – and tell us how the internet is changing the shopping paradigm. With this being the case, shouldn’t we look for a different and more viable plan? Of course we should.

The office space seems like a fairly innocuous offering. Are zoning changes being made to accommodate these retail and business inclusions into this residential housing? Are they really necessary? While 35,000 square feet isn’t that great a space, what happens to it if it cannot be rented out? And what of the hotel that will be constructed on the property? What will be the daily impact of its operation to the area? Will traffic conditions affect the flow of traffic in just Sleepy Hollow or will it also attack Tarrytown, Elmsford, Pocantico Hills, Scarborough, etc.? We’ve been told repeatedly that millennials don’t drive. I
f they do own a car will they drive their cars back and forth to work? Will the hotel have customers walking to them or only taking their shuttle from outer points because it doesn’t allow or have enough parking? Will there be docks that boaters can use? If there are, who will oversee them?

This project isn’t in Greenburgh per se. However every project done in one location can be easily cannibalized and imported to another. Just look at the Shelbourne project on the heels of the Brightview assisted living monstrosity that was inflicted at Benedict Avenue and Rt 119. If it happens in one neighborhood, it can happen in yours. A true Comprehensive Plan could have spared us this type of real estate debauchery. Instead, we were given platitudes about global warming and 500-year storms that are happening every year. This stale thinking needs to change – everywhere. But it needs to start here and then be moved to other neighborhoods just like the bad developments have. Only then can we get A Better Greenburgh.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr

Only three people have a US national holiday observed in their honor: Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January each year (near his Jan. 15 birthday) to honor his legacy in battling for civil rights. The fight to create a national holiday was a massive struggle, one that required the same commitment as the movement to guarantee the rights of all Americans: community organizing, long-term determination, and relentless persistence.

King was assassinated in 1968. The legislation designating the federal holiday in his honor wasn’t passed for another 15 years, and the day wasn’t officially commemorated until 1986.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hartsdale Neighbors Seek To Revitalize Four Corners

A recent meeting of the Hartsdale Neighborhood Association (HNA) took place to discuss renovating the 4-Corners section of Hartsdale. According to the HNA leadership, the four corners area of Central Avenue and Hartsdale Avenue is in desperate need of revitalization. The primary claim is that anyone who has walked or driven past that area has seen the vacant storefronts, backed up traffic, lack of parking and a myriad of issues. They are looking to change that!

They've asked to try and imagine a revitalized Hartsdale Four Corners that is pedestrian friendly, is a modern and inviting environment where businesses thrive, can reduce traffic congestion with increased turning lanes as one solution. Their hope is that the revitalization would help to meet the community’s needs - be it work, life or play!

The HNA believes this can be done with the residents, public and Town's support. There are numerous issues that are impacting businesses, making it difficult for any business to thrive in this area, let alone anywhere in our Town. The current zoning code for this area makes it prohibitive and frankly impossible for businesses to succeed, grow and flourish without a change. In order to fix that they need to show that reinvigorating the Four Corners has the community support. They are asking you to sign their petition and help pave the way for a Four Corners the community and Town can be proud of!

A proposal was put forth by Inspired Places, LLC to request the Town to allow for zoning changes for the immediate 4 Corners. The meeting drew a highly supportive crowd of approximately 100 people. The discussion noted the problems for residents, shoppers, commuters, shop-owners and landowners created by the status quo. The solution to these problems centers on zoning changes, and the discussion highlighted the benefits that Hartsdale would gain through an innovative approach. Some of those include:

-  Replacing existing rigid zoning rules that discourage investment by more flexible, community focused rules
- Permitting mixed-use construction
- Promoting suitably designed and right-sized buildings for the site
- Increasing pedestrian safety through movement of cross walks away from the actual corners
- Addressing traffic volume & congestion by adding dedicated right turning lanes on East & West Hartsdale Avenues
- Addressing parking issues by adding several structured parking facilities
- Adding greenery, including possible green islands defining turning lanes

What also needs to change is the labyrinth of regulations, permits, fees, taxes and overall unfriendliness from the Town toward businesses - especially small business. It seems somewhat hypocritical to hear Mr Feiner and his Town Board espouse that they are "business friendly" when the reality is quite the opposite. We are not saying that safety and protecting both the owners and the public should be ignored. But every permit sees a fee attached to it that never gets lower, only increases. Perhaps having a bundled permit package for certain requirements at a reduced cost would be beneficial. Other ideas can be suggested as well. Some business owners have told us it takes over a year to get the necessary permits, inspections and approvals to even open their business. This must change. Only then will we see A Better Greenburgh.

To sign their petition, click on this link:

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Protecting Your Home During Severe/Cold Weather

Use extra precautions to protect your home during severe weather like we are experiencing now.

There are a number of things you can do to protect pipes from freezing, according to the American Red Cross. Among them: draining and storing hoses; closing inside valves supply outdoor hose bibs and then opening hose bibs to allow water to drain; adding insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces; install products made to insulate water pipes, such as “pipe sleeves” or UL-listed “heat tape.”

To prevent frozen pipes, let your hot and cold faucets drip overnight and open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to uninsulated pipes under sinks on exterior walls. The water you run doesn’t have to be warm, even cold water at a trickle helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Setting your thermostat at the same temperature day and night will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting. While avoiding a high heating bill might be tempting, you could be protecting yourself from costly repairs from frozen or burst pipes. And if you’re going to be away from home for an extended period of time, don't lower heat below 55 degrees.

Keep your house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees might not keep the inside walls from freezing.

If only a trickle of water is coming out of your faucet, a frozen pipe may be to blame. Pipes most susceptible to freezing are against exterior walls or where water enters your home through the foundation. If you’re able to locate the frozen pipe, apply heat using an electric heating pad, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Be careful with the heat source and don’t use open flame devices such as blowtorches or propane heaters. If you can’t locate the frozen pipe or if it’s not accessible, call a licensed plumber.

Check all other faucets in your home to see if you have any other frozen pipes. Pipes in colder areas of your home, including the attic, basement and crawl spaces, are the most likely to freeze.