What's Happening with the Five Corners Coalition?
-the proposed 2-story retail building on the site of the current Citgo gas station including re-rerouting commercial traffic onto a portion of Secor Road and parking waivers and variances that would reduce the amount of parking the developers would have to provide;
-the proposed sale of Village land and related construction of age-restricted housing at and adjacent to the Bistro Citron (formerly Heathcote Tavern) site; and
-the recent offer by the Bistro Citron developers to purchase all or a portion of the Colonial Village side parking lot.
The Coalition’s membership has grown to approximately 190 households, all of which have made cash contributions. The Coalition has been working with neighborhood associations, community groups and individual residents of Scarsdale to monitor, and to provide a forum for analyzing and developing informed positions concerning, such development proposals.
The Coalition has been very active throughout the year in connection with the proposed sale of Village land to facilitate construction at the Bistro Citron (formerly Heathcote Tavern) site.
With the assistance of a land use attorney hired by the Coalition early this year, the Coalition vigorously advocated to the Land Use Committee and the Board of Trustees orally and in writing that the sale of Village land should not be segmented from the related construction project. Segmentation is the division of the environmental review of an action so that various activities or stages are addressed as though they were independent, unrelated activities needing individual determinations of significance. Except in special circumstances, considering only part, or a segment, of an overall action is contrary to the intent of the New York State law known as SEQRA. If the land sale and the related construction were not segmented, full environmental impact and traffic studies would be required as a matter of law prior to the approval of the sale of the Village land.
The Bistro Citron developers responded by formally withdrawing their building plans; and at a June 23rd meeting of the Village Board of Trustees, a bare majority of Trustees voted in favor of a “negative declaration,” which means that a full environmental impact or traffic study does not have to precede approval of the Village land sale. The Trustees thereby indicated that they believed that the sale of the Village land was independent of, and unrelated to, the development project, notwithstanding the fact that the benefit to the Village for the sale of the Village land principally consists of certain project limitations and restrictions on the use of the developers’ land. At the same June 23rd meeting, the Trustees voted to send the proposed land sale back to the Land Use Committee for further review.
The Coalition's Leadership Committee continues to believe that the sale of Village land adjacent to the Bistro Citron parking lot and the related construction project should not be segmented and full environmental impact and traffic studies should precede approval of both the land sale and the construction project.
However, in light of the rejection of these positions on June 23rd by a majority of the Trustees, the absence of any indication to the Coalition that a majority of the Board is willing to re-consider that vote, indications to the Coalition that the Village is determined to proceed with the land sale and facilitate the developers’ project, and the fact that the developers have certain legal rights to develop the properties they already own, the Coalition's Leadership Committee also has been working to try to limit the scope of the project and its impact on the neighborhood and to otherwise improve the terms of the proposed transaction in the event the Board decides to approve the transaction at a future Board meeting.
The Coalition has been attempting to gather information from the Village in order to determine what the Bistro Citron developers can do with and without the purchase of the Village land and to identify additional concessions that the Village can and should reasonably require from the developers in exchange for the Village land should a majority of Trustees decide to proceed with the sale. Representatives of the Coalition met with Mayor Stevens and two other Trustees in late July to discuss various questions and concerns outlined in a July 21st letter sent to the Trustees and posted on the Coalition's website (www.heathcotefivecorners.com). At that meeting, all participants agreed that the next step should be an interactive meeting of those participants with the Village staff. The interactive meeting occurred on November 6th. After considering the information provided at the November 6th meeting, the Trustees’ stated goals in pursuing the transaction, the benefits that will be conferred on the developers as a result of the sale of the Village land, and the developers' and the Village's rights and respective bargaining power, and conscious of the June 23rd Board votes, the Leadership Committee of the Coalition has provided the Trustees with a list of changes to the draft contract and the process by which the transaction should be considered, approved and implemented, which are necessary to provide sufficient protections and benefits to the community and which the Leadership Committee believes are achievable if vigorously pursued by the Village. A copy of that list has been posted on the Coalition's website (www.heathcotefivecorners.com).
The proposed Bistro Citron project involves material and irreversible changes to the second largest commercial district in Scarsdale. The Coalition has requested that the Village Board of Trustees approach the development of the Bistro Citron property as it did the Christie Place development. Before the Village Board approved the Christie Place project, it had the benefit of significant community input, the developer was required to present multiple renderings of the project concept, which were then changed as a result of public comment and Trustee input, and there were extensive contract negotiations with the developer. Unlike the Christie Place process, the developers of the Bistro Citron project have not provided any renderings of the proposed development and apparently have not engaged in meaningful substantive contract negotiations with the Village. The developers have demanded that the Village sell the Village land without submitting project renderings, traffic mitigation plans, or specific commitments about the structure’s density, height, parking and setbacks and the Village has not insisted on restrictions on the use of the Bistro Citron (formerly Heathcote Tavern) building and the lot on which it sits.
The Coalition continues to follow-up with the Village with respect to questions that remain unanswered and the Board's and the developers' responses to the Coalition's list of improvements to the draft contract and the approval process.
Feld vs. Gillibrand?
Just two weeks ago I blogged here that Liz Feld was one of the winners coming out of the Rob Astorino defeat of Andy Spano in Westchester: But I thought this would lead Feld to a rematch against 25 year incumbent Suzi Oppenheimer. In 2010 there will be no Obama coat-tails – that coupled with the growing abhorrence of the NYS Senate by most New Yorkers, I thought that Feld stood a much better chance of taking down Oppenheimer in 2010 than in 2008. But with her statement that she's considering a run for the US Senate against Kirstin Gillibrand, Feld is apparently feeling her oats -- and perhaps believes that the Astorino win in Westchester can carry her to DC. If Rudy (Hamlet) Giuliani ultimately decides to run for Gillibrand’s seat (having opted not to run for Gov), Feld could drop back and mount a re-run against Oppenheimer.
Although Gillibrand’s poll numbers are low, no one should ever count her out of anything -- she's smart, savvy and resilient. There's not a huge difference between Feld and Gillibrand ideologically -- and while Republicans are likely to make inroads in House and Senate races in 2010 -- Gillbrand will be tough to beat -- particularly when you paint whatever Republican runs in New York with the broad brush of the national GOP -- which is now being lead by wackos like Palin, Bachmann, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck. As for the rumor that former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford may mount a primary bid for Gillibrand's seat -- I find that absurd. Any primary opposition to Gillibrand will likely come from her left flank -- and Ford -- who just barely lost a US Senate race in Tennessee in 2006 -- is more in sync with her than not ideologically (right now Ford heads the centrist Democratic Leadership Council). Obama and Schumer will ensure that Ford doesn't make the run. But I think the speculation about it is not serious anyway.
There are reports that Bill Thompson may consider a primary challenge to Gillibrand and he may actually pose a more substantial threat to her. Thompson came surprisingly close to defeating Mayor Bloomberg -- but that vote, frankly was less of a vote for Thompson than a vote against Bloomberg's abrogation of term limits. But if Thompson were to challenge Gillibrand in a primary -- he'd have strength where Gillibrand is weak -- especially in NYC. Yet Thompson may opt instead to primary Tom DiNapoli for State Comptroller - and Thompson would likely easily defeat DiNapoli, who was appointed to his job by the State Legislature and has a very weak political base.
David A. Singer is a former political consultant/campaign professional and political junkie currently toiling as a lawyer in Westchester and managing real estate and media investments.
Missing Pets, Threatening Texts and an Arrest
From the Greenburgh Police: News! Greenburgh has a new police chief! Chief John Kapica will officially retire on November 27th and Jospeh DeCarlo will take his place as the new chief. Marijuana: Michael Ballen, age 23 of White Plains, was stopped for a traffic violation on Central Avenue on 11-19 and police detected the strong smell of marijuana coming from the car. When the driver opened the glove box to retrieve his registration police found a clear plastic bag containing what appeared to be marijuana. He was taken to police headquarters were he was booked, mugged, given a court date and released.
Threats: A Central Avenue resident reported that her husband has been receiving threatening emails from a man to whom he sold a 2002 Nissan Altima about a month ago. The emails claim that the car is no good and that the man is going to come to New York and settle the dispute with her, as the woman’s husband is in China and will not return for several months.
Theft: Three phones were stolen from the Verizon store on Central Avenue on 11-19. The phones were removed from their security harnesses and the suspect bypassed the sensors which are set to trigger an alarm. Thestolen items are valued at over $1,500.
Injured: Maria Tsipenyuk of East Hartsdale Avenue was found sitting on the road on Hartsdale Avenue around 6 PM on Friday November 20th. An observer thought that Ms. Tsipenyuk had been hit by a car, but the victim explained that she was trying to cross East Hartsdale Avenue when a Westside Taxi sped by her, then slammed on his brakes and caused her to fall. She was not struck by the car but did injure her knee. The cab driver returned to the scene to let the police know that he was involved.
Keyed: Lawrence Migliore of Fieldstone Circle reported that someone keyed his Mitsubishi Gallant sometime during the evening of 11/23 when it was parked at 59 Fieldstone Drive. Damage was estimated at $1,500
From the Scarsdale Police:
Arrest: A group of noisy teens were partying on Valley Road at 1 am on November 22nd and police were called to break up the party. Though most of the kids agreed to go home, one boy, who appeared to be drunk, became hostile and argumentative and refused to call his folks. Police arrested the 18 year-old Scarsdale boy for disorderly conduct and called his parents to take him home.
Engine Running: A 2003 red Toyota Camry was found parked, unlocked, with the engine running on East Parkway around noon on 11/19. Inside police found a purse. The car was registered to residents on Garth Road but police were unable to reach them at home. Around 45 minutes later, the owner returned and said she was having coffee and forgot to turn off the car or lock it. The girl was issued a ticket for leaving the car running, unattended and unlocked.
Missing Wall Street Journal: Mr. Stanley Sakellson of 5 Chateaux Circle, reported that he suspected that his neighbor, James Cemprola, had been taking his copies of the Wall Street Journal. Mrs. Cemprola claimed that she had no knowledge of the missing papers. Mr. Cemprola called police later that day to report that he was having problems with Mr. Sakellson and that he had complained to the board of the building about ongoing noise from the apartment. He also said that he did not take the Wall Street Journal.
Missing Black Lab: Ann Galvani reported a foul odor coming from her yard on Sharon Lane on 11/16 and upon investigation police found the remains of a black lab on Popham Road. Police investigated and found that a black lab had been reported missing on 10/31 by the Conde Family on Sherbrooke Road. Police contacted the Condes to let them know that they suspected that their dog had been found.
Injured Cat: Stanley Ryerson found a wounded cat on Crane Road on 11/16 and summoned police to stop traffic while he retrieved it to take it to the humane society. Police assisted and Mr. Ryerson corralled the cat and took it away.
Ongoing Dispute: This week, in his ongoing dispute with his neighbor, Mr. Soldatenko filed a complaint claiming that he was receiving anonymous annoyance letters.
Burglary: A home at 72 Walworth Avenue was robbed sometime during the day on November 18th. Two laptop computers, jewelry and a video game system were taken. The house was not tossed and there were no signs of a forced entry. Police suspect that someone with access to the house may be involved.
Party: Just after midnight on November 19th a group of teens from Scarsdale and Pelham were partying on the third floor of the Freightway Garage. Police arrived and the party broke up without an incident.
Impersonation: A Scarsdale boy came to the police station on November 19th to report that his cousin, who lives in Eastchester, was using his driver’s license. The cousin had been pulled over twice for traffic violations and the boy was wondering if he should press charges against him.
Confused: A Lyons Road resident was found lying on the corner of Boulevard and Gaylor Roads. She suffers from Alzheimers and said she left home to escape her caretaker. Police were unable to communicate with the woman or her caretaker due to a language barrier, but they reached the woman’s daughter by phone who convinced her mother to return home.
Car Break-in: A Claremont Road resident reported that his 2008 Mercedes Benz was entered during the night of November 21st. He had left the car unlocked in his driveway. Thieves made away with an apple iPhone and a Sharper Image massage chair.
Threatening Text: A Scarsdale man received a threatening text message from his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend that said “you’ll be in the ICU when I see you again.”