Saturday, March 31, 2012

It’s Right Under Your Nose

Most people live in the moment; surrounded with their families and friends, usually in their own neighborhood. They rarely see what goes on in other parts of the community, municipality or even at the meetings of their elected politicians. ABG knows there is a lot going on throughout the Town of Greenburgh, and will touch on some in no particular order or importance. Actually, they’re all important because somebody always wins and somebody always loses. Traditionally, in Greenburgh, it’s the residents of the Unincorporated portion of the Town who always lose to developers, special interests and The Paul’s pet projects – which are often the same thing.

Greystone Developers has a project in the works to build 20 - 8,000 square foot homes on Route 9, across from the Kraft Foods site. There is already a small development adjacent to the location with some fairly large homes. In actuality, 8 of the new homes to be built will be in the Village of Tarrytown and 12 will be in the Town of Greenburgh. These new homes will make McMansions seem like bungalows. ABG is concerned about a couple of issues: increased flooding, subdivisions when the homes don’t sell, and an increase in traffic congestion. Before you say it’s only 20 homes and maybe 40 cars, each time we add to an already congested roadway, regardless of the negative impact comments the developer will make based on their traffic study, which is usually mythical to begin with, it only adds to the congestion problems our neighborhoods are currently overwhelmed with. The good news? These homeowners will cumulatively pay about a million dollars a year in taxes – until the certiorari adjustments.

The Dromore Road lawsuit case, which the Town just lost, allows a developer to take a parcel of land near the Greenburgh Nature Center that was thought to be residentially zoned for single family homes, and build 41 units of housing. The Edgemont Community, understandably, is against this. The developer contends the zoning map allows them to build a large development. A judge agreed and awarded the victory to the developer. The Edgemont community disagrees and has the financial resources and talent to challenge the decision. While it is no surprise for the Town to lose a court case with The Paul at the helm, ABG believes Greenburgh might have won if the judge evaluated the whole picture and not just a technicality. Unfortunately, the Town’s loss was based on outdated and faulty zoning maps. Another developer, Westhab, was able to succeed with their oversized project in Fulton Park through similarly faulted mapping. Only that community doesn’t have the resources to fight back.

Homeland Towers, a cell tower company, intends to erect two 108 foot cell towers in the Town. The proposed locations are one on Taxter Road and one on Tarrytown Road. If you want to know what it might look like, look near the service station going southbound on the Hutchinson River Parkway from Westchester Avenue eastbound. ABG understands that there will be at least three companies utilizing these towers. There was another company, looking to put cell towers on existing utility poles. The Stepford Board, will not make a decision on the company's request to install these cell towers. We believe they are hesitant to do any real work and make any kind of decision as it might go against The Paul’s wishes or offend a developer; especially a developer that may donate to The Paul’s campaign fund! It’s actually one of The Paul’s most clever tactics being artfully executed by his Stepford Board.

The well-publicized screw-up of The Paul with the WestHelp organization and the County has cost the Town $1.2 million per year. When WestHelp finally closed down because their services to house the homeless was no longer necessary or needed, his incompetence not only became glaringly apparent, but he reacted as he always does. He began to throw spaghetti (ideas) against the wall in hopes that something might stick and get him out from under his fiasco. Not only did that not work, but two residents sued Valhalla to get money returned to the Town that the Town had illegally paid to the Valhalla School District as a payoff deal to let the WestHelp residents’ kids attend the Valhalla schools. Their lawsuit was successful. The Town’s legal department still refuses to recognize or understand the illegality – probably because The Paul instructed them not to. There is now a plan on the table by The Paul to lease the property to a handicap school for 50 years for $900k per year. However, they wish to demolish the three buildings on the property to proceed. The biggest problem with this offer is that the Town doesn’t own this property, the County does! Consequently, The Paul cannot make any contractual deals regarding it.

There’s a new dance studio looking to open in the site of a former gas station on Central Avenue. It’s tough enough being a gas station in Greenburgh but simply purchasing the gas station property will invariably require contaminated soil remediation along with other cleanup costs. It could be thousands of dollars before the first pirouette is performed.

The Town has also proposed that we do away with leaf collection and either mulch our leaves or bag them for pickup. ABG doesn’t mind doing away with the pickup since the only time the leaves were removed were after the first snowfall by the snowplows clearing more than just the snow from our streets. So, the reality of this move will allow The Paul to tout how he reduced our highway department costs by eliminating leaf pickups. Are they going to sell the vacuum equipment? ABG doubts it. That would actually save us money.

The Theodore Young Center was a victim of Tropical Storm Irene. The difference between the TYC and our neighbors that were also flooded was that The Paul sprung into action to get the TYC monies to make repairs caused by the flood. If you go into the gymnasium at the TYC, you’re see the damaged wood floor as it undulates throughout the large room. Many neighborhoods were severely inundated and overwhelmed with water from Irene. What did The Paul do for them? He contacted every other politician and asked them to do something and then amazingly told flooded homeowners that he would contact FEMA to have them buy these same homeowners’ homes from them. Research proved that there were many steps the Town, County, State and Federal governments would have to perform before any offer of purchase would be made. Is this a sincere offer or more of The Paul’s snake oil doublespeak?

Assisted Living Centers are all the rage across the country as our baby-boomer society ages. And, while the cost of real estate is extremely prohibitive to many throughout Westchester, it is not a problem to secure and develop in Greenburgh if you “know someone”. ABG is all for assisted living and knows of one facility in Valhalla near Westchester Community College that does quite well. There is a small parcel of land, roughly where Rt 119 and Benedict Avenue intersect, immediately behind the gas station at the beginning of Benedict Avenue that is planning (still unofficial) to appear before an upcoming Town Board meeting to expose the proposal. We’re sure The Paul will make the Stepford Board the lead agency, ignore the traffic studies, SEQR, etc., and most importantly, the neighborhoods’ concerns as they fast track this project through the Towns normal maze of regulations.

Another recent court decision against the Town happened with little fanfare in the media. While we understand what happened, it’s a pretty involved case that affects one family, their neighborhood and us, The Paul’s personal ATM resource. Dominick Caratozzolo approached the Town Board in 2005 and explained how he and his neighborhood were being overcharged on their sewer tax. He and his family had paid under protest all the while pleading with the Board to address this travesty. They would not, following The Paul’s mantra, “Sue me”. While there are a lot more details to this, we’ve elected to skirt those and focus on the outcome. Mr. Caratozzolo did sue, and won the lawsuit against The Paul and the Town Board, proving the Town was in fact overcharging everyone in the neighborhood. The judge also found that while the Town was guilty, he refused to refund the difference back to the homeowners. While we believe this is mostly because of some sort of sympathy from the judge toward The Paul, it still vindicates Mr. Caratozzolo and the others. Unfortunately, we pay for The Paul’s arrogance and non-existing management skills.

The “happenings” in the Town of Greenburgh suggests a never-ending stream of ill-conceived concepts, projects fraught with collusion, campaign donations, coercion, back room deals, payback and more dark venues than a proctologist will ever see. We have suggested the NYS Attorney General investigate the shady events happening in the Town, but The Paul has a spousal lock to keep that from happening. Someday we may see an investigation happen, exposing more under one overturned rock than even ABG cares to believe. We can only hope.

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