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What's Happening with the Five Corners Coalition?

Bistro Citron
Here is a letter from Millicent Kaufman, Chairperson of the Heathcote Five Corners Coalition on the status of their talks with the Village on development at the Five Corners: The Heathcote Five Corners Coalition is a grassroots organization formed in response to the unprecedented proposals for development in the Five Corners area including: -the Heathcote Manor housing development on Weaver Street;
-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.

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