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The multiday snowstorm that hit the East Coast last week was challenging for both residents and Con Edison. All told 50,000 households in Westchester had no power on Friday morning February 26th and Con Edison had 300 crews working on the ground to restore it.

According to Con Edison spokesman Bob McGee, Con Edison brought in teams from as far away as Ohio and Pennsylvania to back up the force in Westchester County. As so many of the outages were due to trees that fell on the lines, Con Edison also hired local contractors to cut down trees and remove debris.

By Saturday morning Con Ed had brought power back to 28,000 homes leaving another 22,000 in the dark. The company prioritizes cases by working first on those repairs that will bring power back to the most homes.

As Scarsdale has overhead wiring we were hit much harder than residents of New York City where power lines are below ground. McGee also asserted that if Con Edison had not done their tree trimming program this past year, they estimated that the situation would have been three times as bad.

The heavy snow on the ground made the work difficult as dangerous live wires could be hidden beneath the snow. Crews had to proceed with extreme caution and luckily over the five days of work there were no injuries. As of Tuesday afternoon March 2, only 220 of the 50,000 homes in Westchester were still without power, two of those in Scarsdale.

While some waited out the storm at home, other's took refuge in nearby hotels.  According to Hugh Anderson, General Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in White Plains, and estimated 50 guests checked in over the weekend to get warm.  The hotel staff welcomed local residents with special group breakfasts and dinners and both the pool and the health club were enjoyed by the crowd.

Below please find remarks from Mayor Carolyn Stevens given at the Scarsdale Village Board meeting on Tuesday night February 23rd when the Board received comments on the Village Center component of the Comprehensive Plan:

Tonight we have the second Public Hearing on the Update to the Comprehensive Plan for the Village Center. Based on some of the comments we had at the last meeting I would like to provide an overview. The purpose of a comprehensive plan is to provide some guidance to property holders and future Village and Land Use Boards – it provides a policy foundation for future planning, zoning and development action. There are no mandates in the plan – only a menu of possible amenities that might be traded for zoning changes should some property owner wish to change what is on their property. The Plan carefully reiterates the features of the Village center that the residents and other stakeholders wish to preserve – attempts to determine what residents and other users of the Village Center would like to see improved – and tries to lay out what some of the tradeoffs are for those improvements. The purpose is not to make those choices now…but to provide a framework for later discussions.

We heard from several folks at the last meeting who are concerned for our local gas stations – I use one of them and have so for many years – would I like to see it remain…yes. But that is my personal view and preference…that needs to be weighed along with all the other opinions – including that of the property owner; because nothing will change if the owner of the property doesn’t seek a change. Do I personally think whatever is eventually built on the Freightway lot should be built to the maximum considered…probably not. But then I don’t know what the options or how it could be massed (I am not an architect – much less one with vision) but I have learned over the years of being on the Board that sometimes good ideas come along – and we shouldn’t preclude them if they meet the vision and goals laid out in the Plan.

For those concerned about process – this plan took the Planning Board two and a half years of work to produce. To refer to only one of the surveys that was done, as if that was all that the report is based on, is misleading. There were other surveys and numerous public sessions and interviews with SNAP, Friends of the Parks, the Overhill Neighborhood Association, the Fox Meadow Neighborhood Association, Old Scarsdale, the TVCC and other groups were all sought out for input – there were numerous public meetings and long and seemingly endless public work sessions where the Planning Board members (this covered three Boards) discuss, debated and deliberated on the underlying principles and philosophy of this document and whether the items included worked to move those principles forward. I sat in on some of those sessions – some went until 1:00 AM…because the Planning Board wanted to accurately reflect in this document what they had heard – they sought to balance the competing goals from all of the stakeholders and fashion a document that reflects our basic values and vision for the Village Center.

So while I am at this – let me thank the recent Planning Board and all of the past iterations of the Planning Board that have worked on this document – especially the chairs – Bill Miller, Jonathan Drescher, and David Karp for the careful and thoughtful job – and time consuming job - that was done. Please accept my thanks on behalf of the Village Board.

Let me add one thing with respect to the Planning Board --It has recently come to my attention that some individuals have sought to have a private meeting with the Planning Board about a project that is not yet before the Planning Board. Such a meeting would be improper and illegal.

For those who don’t understand the Planning Board’s role let me take a moment to explain. The Planning Board sits as a quasi- judicial body when it is reviewing projects – and just as it would be improper for a party to a lawsuit to ask for a private meeting with a judge so to it is improper for the Bd. to have such a meeting. Any discussions with regard to a project need to be in public, on the record and with the Applicant present. Nor are telephone calls to individual members to discuss the merits of any project or applicant proper.

I would also add that there seems to be some confusion in general on the role of the Planning Board. The Planning Board is required by state law and receives its powers from state law. It is not a creature of Village Law and it does not answer to the Village Board although the members are appointed by the Village Board. The Planning Board duties are codified and they are charged with making sure that a project complies with all environmental laws, zoning laws, and other codes that might apply such as health code, clean water acts, etc. It is their charge under state law to work with a property owner to make sure that any project that is built is in compliance with all applicable laws and codes. It is not their job to determine what should be built – but only to determine if what is being proposed meets all legal requirements and if not, to work with the property owner to bring it into compliance. Yes, it can recommend variances if it believes that the trade-offs are worth it, but these must be granted by the Board of Appeals. They don’t chose the project… it is the landowners choice. I hope this acts as a bit of primer.

Again thanks to the Planning Board for all of its hard work on the Plan and all the other hard work they do.

The Westchester County Board of Legislators Committees on Environment and Energy will have a joint meeting discussing Consolidated Edison’s recent tree cutting along electric transmission line corridors.  Both committees will, also, address legislation calling for a moratorium on Con Edison’s tree cutting program and a revision of the State’s Public Service Commission requirements. Representatives from Con Edison have been invited to attend.

Recent tree cutting and clearing along electric transmission line corridors has raised many questions and concerns among homeowners and municipalities that border these lines.  Con Edison operates and manages the transmission lines, which span from Yonkers to Yorktown. Without notification, Con Edison clear cut thousands of trees along the Sprain Brook Parkway, causing a loss of privacy and an increase in traffic noise for residents whose properties bordered the Sprain Brook Parkway in Greenburgh.

Though it is too late to save the trees, legislators can hopefully prevent further clear-cutting of trees.

The meeting will be held on Monday February 22nd at 3 pm in the Westchester County Board of Legislators Committee Room at 148 Martine Avenue, 8th floor, in White Plains.

Crash: After hitting two utility poles a Chevy Suburban turned over on Mamaroneck Road and then slid into an eastbound 2008 Audi. James Brigante of Hartsdale was driving westbound on Mamaroneck Road in a Chevy Suburban on Friday February 12th at 5:16 pm. Due to a medical condition, he lost control of the car and hit a utility pole on the eastbound side of the street. The car ricocheted across the street and hit another utility pole on the other side of the street, and then flipped over onto its roof.

A housekeeper for a Scarsdale family, Deicy Maria Osorio, was driving a 2008 Audi eastbound on Mamaroneck Road when the overturned Chevy Suburban collided with her car. The accident occurred near the intersection of Mamaroneck Road and Cooper Road

When police arrived they found Brigante sitting on the side of the road. He was disoriented and said he did not remember what happened.  The Scarsdale Ambulance Corps determined that Brigante was in diabetic shock which had caused him to lose consciousness.  Miraculously no one was seriously hurt though the 2003 Chevy Suburban was totaled and the Audi sustained significant damage. Mr. Brigante, who is a diabetic, was taken to the Westchester County Medical Center by SCARVAC and the other driver was not injured. The road was clear at the time so ice was not the cause of the accident.

Collision: Mark Harris of Hartford, Connecticut was fleeing Westchester County Police who had attempted to stop him while he was driving north on the Hutchinson River Parkway at 2:20 on the afternoon of 2/11. In his attempt to get away, he exited the parkway at Weaver Street and failed to stop at the stop sign at the top of the exit.  He collided with a 2009 Honda driven by Marion Loguidice of New York City. Harris then hit a street sign and made a left onto the northbound entrance ramp for the parkway, but the car was damaged so the driver exited the highway and pulled into the Weinberg Nature Center on Mamaroneck Road.  Scarsdale Police found the car and called the County Police who took the two occupants into custody for fleeing the police and for possession of empty drug paraphernalia.

Found Puggle: A small male Puggle with a red collar was found running in front of 15 Park Road on 2/9.  Police called the phone number they found on his tag and left a message. They registered the dog in the "lost dog book" and Tiffany Montrola from the New Rochelle Humane society came to pick up the dog.

Attempted Burglary
: Police responded to a burglar alarm at 13 Walworth at 11:30 on February 8th and found a side window broken and slightly ajar. The homeowner was called and when she returned she found the house in good order. Apparently the intruder had been frightened off by the activated alarm.

iPod stolen from Heathcote School classroom
: On February 9th, the music teacher at the Heathcote Elementary School called police to report that a black iPod, valued at $249 had been taken from her classroom. The iPod was the property of the Scarsdale School District and had been plugged into a stereo system in the room.

Stop Sign Down: A Brewster Road woman saw a 1999 Mercedes Benz hit a stop sign and drive away on February 8th. She recorded the license plate number and called police to report the damage. Police went to the home where the car was registered and issued the driver, who is a high school student, a summons for leaving the scene of an accident.

Arrest: James Earl Hardee, age 46 of Mt. Vernon surrendered at Scarsdale Police headquarters on February 11th in response to an arrest warrant for driving without a license. He was released on $230 bail by the judge and a court date was set for a hearing.

Threatened:  A Black Birch Road man reported that his 16-year-old daughter had received threats from a third party that a classmate "wanted to her harm over the winter break." The girl goes to school in White Plains.  The father asked for extra surveillance of the home during the coming week.

The federal monitor assigned by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to oversee Westchester County’s compliance with a mandate to construct 750 units of affordable housing has turned down the implementation plan submitted by the County on January 31st. James E. Johnson, the monitor, cited many issues with the County plan and returned it to County Executive Robert Astorino for revision.

In a letter that was received by Astorino on 2/10, Johnson ordered the County to meet with representatives of HUD from 2/16 to 3/2 and gave a deadline to resubmit the plan of 3/12/10.

Among the shortcomings in the plan listed by the monitor are:

  • Concrete strategies to develop 750 affordable unit
  • An allocation plan for the $51.6 million that the County is required to spend on land acquisition, infrastructure improvement, construction, acquisition and other development costs
  • Benchmarks for the first six months – (since the County asked for extra time to submit the implementation plan, the Monitor wants the first six month benchmark to begin six months after October, 2009 when the original plan was due)
  • A concrete timeframe for identifying and assessing potential properties for the development of the 750 units
  • Definition of whom within the County government will be responsible for various tasks
  • General information provided about sites under active consideration, including the estimated number of potential units, location category and the process used for identification and assessment. (The County had claimed that identifying properties could potentially drive up prices.)
  • A clear strategy for how the County will employ carrots and sticks to encourage compliance by municipal governments
  • A plan for ongoing reporting to the monitor about the development of affordable units
  • A detailed plan about marketing, outreach and education efforts.

In Johnson’s letter he also states that he received comments on the implementation plan from the Anti-Discrimination Center, the group that initiated the lawsuit that charged the county with failing to use HUD grants to build affordable housing. Johnson cautioned that upon review of the ADC letter he could come back to the County with additional requests.

In response to the rejection of the plan, Ken Jenkins, the Westchester County Board Chairman said, “We have received notification regarding the implementation plan.  The federal monitor found some discrepancies in the submitted plan. The monitor identified some items that must be resolved.

What does the New York Times have to say about the plan? Read their opinion here.

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