It’s no secret that Mr Feiner has ruled against the Edgemont incorporation petition. It was also no secret that he was against the incorporation from the get-go. For all intents and purposes, the petition was correctly filled out, filed and met the standards of the law. Now, many are asking what’s next?
Comments made at many of the meetings were what we expected to hear as elections are coming up soon, we should run another candidate, someone should run, we’ll vote him out and more. The problem is that no one will vote him out. The master of the campaign, Mr Feiner continues to get 7-9,000 votes when running unopposed. Should a viable candidate appear and even contemplate running against him, it will need to be an independent candidate, not a Democrat or Republican. In fact, the Greenburgh Republican party has written Greenburgh off as unwinnable and will not “waste” Republican resources in Greenburgh.
Several years ago Edgemont resident Bob Bernstein challenged Mr Feiner in the supervisor race. A progressive democrat, Mr Bernstein's candidacy forced a primary runoff, pitting he and Mr Feiner against each other for the democratic nomination. While Mr Bernstein met with community groups, went to events and reached out as much as he could, Mr Feiner used the then-personally controlled GBList (Town email list) to rally his troops. Subsequently, several things happened.
First and foremost, Mr Feiner won the primary. Second, he and his “team” attempted to disqualify Mr Bernstein’s petition signatures, this time not using private investigators and a retired judge. Third, he sat back and utilized his 24+ years of contacts, favors, connections and paybacks to defeat Mr Bernstein. While the numbers always amaze many people, only a small fraction of residents even bother to vote. So the argument about voting him out of office is more than likely, moot!
We’ve written previously that what affects the Town in one community will eventually do the same thing in another. Examples? An easy one the Brightview Assisted Living Center at Benedict Avenue and Rt 119. The G10 fought most of what the proposal encompassed alongside the small group of residents that live in the Glenville section of unincorporated Greenburgh. Therein is the rub. The residents in Glenville went out of their way to try to work with the builder, believing the Town would have their back. They played by what they thought were the rules and were summarily dismissed - and ultimately screwed - getting an oversized behemoth structure smack dab in the middle of their small single-family homes neighborhood. Other neighborhoods got screwed as well.
The attorneys for Brightview wrote the zoning bill that Mr Feiner and his Town Board adopted into law for assisted living facilities in the Town. It did nothing if not address and eliminate every issue Brightview faced with their proposed project. Subsequently, the bill was adopted and pushed through the various Boards with almost record setting speed. With no resistance left against the Brightview projects, residents and the G10 repeatedly argued that they were setting a terrible precedent for the Town with future assisted living facilities. That precedent has come full circle.
In a 4 to 3 vote, the Greenburgh Zoning Board of Appeals voted to allow a 3,000% variance as well as to waive the 4-year old assisted living zoning code’s mandate of a minimum 4-acre requirement. It is not unusual to see developers ask for and receive variances. A setback variance example from a required 8-foot setback to a 6-foot setback would be considered reasonable in some instances and probably granted. Invariably, most people would not have an objection to that. If a developer were to ask to change a 50-foot setback to a 10-foot setback with a four to five story building in a residential neighborhood, many, if not all in the neighborhood, would probably object. This is exactly what happened in Glenville when Brightview agreed to slightly turn their building instead of reducing its size to try to make it more palatable to the residents it was about to overwhelm.
So, now that the developers know what they can get away in the zone free Town of Greenburgh, they are proceeding with every ridiculous proposal they can come up with, including the 3,000% variance Shelbourne knows Mr Feiner will vote against but instruct his Board to pass. Why have zoning laws or even a Comprehensive Plan if all the administration will do is kowtow to every developer that comes before the Town with a proposal?
In a sadly veiled attempt to justify their votes favoring the Shelbourne project, Feiner appointees Daniel Martin, Rohan Harrison, William Losapio and Louis Crichlow ensured a back-door for Mr Feiner and his Board to escape another lawsuit initiated by Shelbourne after we believe Mr Feiner instructed his Board to rescind the negative declaration for the project, claiming the project would not have a negative impact on the environment. They also ignored the Fire District’s request for a study of the impact the facility will have on the emergency services they provide. All examples provided by Shelbourne have thus far been inadequate or not on a par with the size of the district, staffing, size of facility, amount of patients/residents, etc.
This project has been favored by Mr Feiner from its inception. Consequently, Mr Feiner’s Board is also in favor of it. Residents be damned, but this project has legs and has begun to run, regardless of what the neighborhoods want, the fire district says or the laws that are being swept aside. Mr Feiner was able to slow the Edgemont incorporation attempt by finding the petition insufficient. Pro-incorporation proponents are taking a step back and regrouping. Mr Feiner is ensuring several things will happen by those pro-incorporation residents. First, a new petition being crafted. Second, a larger boundary being created for the proposed village. Third, another lawsuit (or more). Fourth, people on the fence or wondering about incorporation have now been convinced to change their position, favoring incorporation. Finally, people who may have been in Mr Feiner's camp are jumping ship. His plan is backfiring!
The behavior of Mr Feiner and his Board are disappointing to people in the know. People not in the know usually find out after the bad decisions have been implemented, groundbreaking has taken place and the done-deal signed, sealed and delivered to the developer. This has to stop. Only then will we get A Better Greenburgh.