Tuesday, Jun 25th

Weiser3Scarsdale recently lost two members of the community. Here are remembrances for Kenneth Weiser, a 70 year Scarsdale resident and Stephen Seward.

Kenneth David Weiser

Born December 1, 1924, died June 6, 2024.
Adored husband of Carol (nee Kane) who was the love of his life for over 74 years. Beloved father of Robert (Susan), Betsy (Eric Karp) and Ned (Nancy). Loving grandfather of Jeffrey Weiser, David Weiser (Jessica), Emily Karp (Derek Miller), Andrew Karp (Danielle), Jenna Karp, Kate Weiser, Chloe Weiser and Phoebe Weiser. Extraordinary great grandfather of Zachery, Matthew, Zelda and Olympia Weiser and Lucas Miller. Cherished brother of Marcie Blauner.

He graduated from Columbia College in 1947 and Harvard Business School in 1949. While serving during WWII, he was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, receiving a Purple Heart. In 1949, he joined his father’s CPA firm M.R. Weiser & Co. and was instrumental in its growth and success. He was a man of fine judgement, character, and intelligence. He headed Federation’s Distribution Committee, was President of WJCS, and was Treasurer and Board Member of Montefiore Medical Center for many years.
His varied interests included world travel, reading, organic gardening and sports. He was an inspiration to his family and will be remembered with admiration and love.

Stephen Seward

Stephen Clark Seward died on June 14, 2024, surrounded by family at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut. He was 75.

Steve could connect with anyone he met, and usually did, always eager to engage, debate, and learn about other people’s lives. He turned that gregarious personality into a long and successful career as a charitable fundraising coach, advising countless non-profit organizations in the course of his life, from the Jewish Child Care Association and The Boys’ Club of New York to Educate! in East Africa. His work helped to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for causes important to him and society.Seward

Serving others was important to Steve. He was a branch director in the Union City Public Library system; executive vice president of the John O’Donnell Company, a fundraising consultancy; director of philanthropy for the Nature Conservancy in New York; and executive director of the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation; among other roles dedicated to public service. He gave much of his free time to non-profit work, as well, most recently serving as president of the Litchfield Hills Rowing Club (LHRC).

Born in Queens, New York, to Phyllis Clark and Rossiter Seward, “Stevie,” then Stephen, and then Steve grew up there and in Wayne, New Jersey, and Hillburn, New York, with his siblings Doug, Dave, and Cindy. He was student council president and captain of the tennis team at Suffern High School before going to Amherst College, where he studied political science and dedicated much of his time to political organizing and opposition to the Vietnam War.

After graduating, Steve worked for the progressive newsweekly The Guardian. He then got a master’s degree in library science from the University at Buffalo and ended up at the Foundation Center in New York City, where he met a coworker, Sherry Moses, whom he fell in love with and married in 1982. Their early years in the city were filled with theater, which Steve continued to enjoy his entire life.

Sherry and Steve moved to Ardsley and then Scarsdale, New York, to pursue careers in philanthropy and raise their son, Zach, whose love of journalism owes to the newspapers and magazines that Steve stacked on the kitchen table. In his suburban years, Steve was a Little League coach, synagogue advisor, and of course fundraising consultant to many local charities.

Dave Shuster of Scarsdale said the following, "I’ve been with the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation from its beginnings, having been its treasurer. I worked closely with Steve. Steve was a consultant to SSEF before becoming its executive director from 2013 to 2018. He was highly knowledgeable and experienced in the 501c3/non-profit space, and an invaluable resource. Without him, SSEF could not have moved as fast and efficiently as it did to raise the funds and thereby provide the $2.25 million of grants that it made to SUFSD for the fitness center and design lab at the high school. Steve was always a pleasure to work with, a true gentleman. He was a great credit to Scarsdale. He will be missed, but his spirit and legacy lives on in what he helped bring to the Scarsdale Schools."

Beth Zadek added, "Steve became involved with the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation in 2012 and became its Executive Director in 2013, steering it from its founding until the completion of its capital campaign in 2018. His deep experience in the non-profit world guided us every step of the way. His input was invaluable and he brought a depth of knowledge about process and fundraising that has been integral to its success. More important, Steve was optimistic and thoughtful, ever the cheerleader in all circumstances. He continued to be in touch after his retirement, always generous with his time to answer questions. The Foundation would not have achieved its success without his wisdom."

When he and Sherry began spending more time in Roxbury, Connecticut, they became active in the local organizations like the Connecticut Community Foundation, where Steve was a board member for six years. He also took up rowing and came to relish early-morning practices on Bantam Lake and weekend regattas with LHRC teammates, who recently honored him by naming one of the boats “Seward’s Folly.” He proudly rowed The Head of the Charles in 2022.

Steve is survived by his wife Sherry Seward; his son Zach Seward and daughter-in-law Kate Lee; his grandchildren Hugo and Nicholas Seward, who were the center of Steve’s universe in the last decade of his life; and his siblings Doug, Dave, and Cindy Seward.

57 FayetteRacing to have new land use code in place so that Scarsdale’s Building Moratorium can be lifted, the Village Trustees held a work session prior to the 6-11 Board of Trustees meeting where they reviewed suggested revisions to the proposed code with consultants BFJ. See the memo here:

The consultants were originally charged with making recommendations to:

-Reduce stormwater flooding
-Reduce the appearance of home bulk

They came back with a long list of small adjustments to current Village code and new requirements for Planning Board Review for projects where there would be land disturbance above specified thresholds. They also suggested new “open space” percentages to guarantee more permeable surfaces and recommended that the Village change the definition of gravel surfaces to impermeable for lot coverage calculations. That means that gravel driveways would now count in lot coverage calculations and would limit the size of other structures and paved areas on a site.

The current code offers bonuses in interior space for setting back homes beyond the required minimum. As of late, homes appear to be too large. The consultants recommended maintaining these bonuses for increased setbacks but reducing the square footage of those bonuses by zoning district.

At a prior meeting, a resident asked what the cumulative effect of changes in lot coverage, FAR, and bonuses would be. The consultants came back with this response. “We determined that the recommendations would result in an average decrease of 1.25% for FAR overall and an average decrease of 32% for the FAR side yard incentive. “

So it is yet to be seen if a 1% change in Floor Area Ratio and some decreases in bonus square footage make a noticeable impact.

Zoning District vs. Lot Size

Some of the discussion on Tuesday centered around regulations based on zoning district, vs. lot size. As all lots in a district are not uniform, some of the larger lots in one district exceed the size of those in the next, so trustees questioned whether or not it was fair to homeowners for example who might require Planning Board approval for a lot in A4, which is actually larger than a lot in A3 that would not require Planning Board review.

After much discussion, the Trustees opted to maintain these threshold numbers by zoning district.

Tree Canopy

Other changes were made due to resident comments. The provision for Planning Board review was amended to include consideration of impacts o the tree canopy. The new text says, “The location and characteristics of the different areas of vegetation, including the identification of all individual trees 6 or more inches in diameter at breast height (“DBH”), protected trees of any size, as well as stands of trees, wooded areas, and tree canopies within areas of proposed disturbance.”

Construction Management Plan

Another new provision is the addition of a construction management plan to the code. So when applicants file they will need to demonstrate how the building site and neighbors properties will be safeguarded during construction.

Impervious and Pervious

Now that gravel driveways will be considered as impervious, there was considerable discussion about the use of permeable pavers. Should they be considered pervious or impervious? Some have suggested that over time, the permeable pavers settle and the grout between them hardens into an impervious surface. Consultants recommended allowing permeable pavers to be considered as “pervious” surfaces though it was noted that they are far more expensive than gravel. And requiring their use might incentivize people to move homes closer to the street to avoid a long driveway.

Removed from the proposed code was a provision that would have allowed homes built in the flood plain to be 3 feet taller – so that they could be built above the water table. The Planning Board feared that this would encourage building in the flood plain so it was removed.

Non Conformities

There was considerable discussion about the new regulations causing existing properties to become non-conforming. For instance, if you have a one-story home that is currently set back 10 feet, and the new requirements are for a 12 foot setback, you would need a variance to build a second story on your existing house.

How big is this issue? Village Planner Kellan Cantrell said he reviewed 50 applications to the BAR and believed that only 3% of these applications would require variances under the new code.

Toward the end of the discussion Trustee Karen Brew expressed some skepticism about whether these changes would tackle the original issues that brought the Village to declare the building moratorium. She said, “There is general concern with the appearance of bulk in the A5 district (lots of .11 acres or less). She referred to the proposed regulations and said, “We are not changing a thing. The setbacks are not changed. The FAR is the same. The open space (requirement) will not make a difference. And we are still giving a FAR bonus (for additional setbacks beyond the minimums.)

FARChart

The consultants responded saying, “Smaller lots are challenging. Middle size lots will be more impacted.” They added that the bonus square footage for the FAR incentive in the A5 zone would be reduced by 80 square feet.

Brew continued, “If you drive around A5 and you see what is being built, they are massive. It makes the whole neighborhood ugly. It is destroying the neighborhood. The whole idea was to decrease bulk and change stormwater management. And this is not going to help this.”

Mayor Arest asked the consultants to “look at other neighborhoods. And take another look at that.”

PenaltiesWoodlands2

Closing the work session, Mayor Arest asked the Village Attorney to look into drafting stricter penalties for those who take down homes without a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Committee for Historic Preservation. He asked, “Could they be required to rebuild the original home?:

Similarly could penalties be increased for those who clear cut properties without a permit. He wondered if the Village could require the offender to replant with similar sized trees.

Events

In other news from the Village Board, Mayor Arest reminded registered voters to vote in the primary on June 25, 2024 or to vote early, beginning Saturday June 15 at local locations. See the list of locations and voting times here.

Trustee Ken Mazer announced three events for Scarsdale seniors including a pizza party at the Scarsdale Pool on June 20 from 12-3, a Father’s Day celebration at the Girls Scout House and a Safety Expo at Scarsdale Library on Thursday June 27 at 11 am.

Trustee Gruenberg relayed that she had attended a ceremony at Wayside Cottage on Friday June 7 to commemorate slaves who resided there in the 1700’s. Witness stones were placed to remember Rose and her seven children who were slaves and residents of the cottage.

Resolutions

Trustees passed resolutions to furnish mobile radios for the Scarsdale Police Department, to purchase radio equipment for the Scarsdale Police for use in the MTA regional radio system and to purchase a Zetron Radio Console for the Police Department.

They agreed to an amendment of the CSEA Local contract to include Juneteenth. (June 19th) as a paid holiday.

They appointed Randi Culang to the Board of Architectural Review in place of current member Raul Mayta who will now serve as an alternate.

Tax Collections

Though Treasurer Ann Scaglione was not at the meeting, Mayor Arrest was pleased to report that the tax collection rate for County, School and Village taxes have all exceeded the five-year average and are all above 99%.

Village Tax Bills will be mailed out on July 1, 2024.

zoningmapMayor Justin Arest said it all at the close of the public hearing on May 28 about proposed building code changes in Scarsdale when he said, “More than half think it doesn’t go far enough and another think it goes too far.”

He was referring to a long list of revisions to Scarsdale’s building code, recommended by Planning Consultants BFJ. The recommendations were first presented to the public at a meeting on Tuesday May 14.

On May 28 consultants presented their recommendations again, and the public had the opportunity to comment.

In brief, the consultants propose to use the following tools to reduce lot coverage, increase open space and improve stormwater absorption. Each alone would not have a great impact, but consultants say the combination of these factors together should have a meaningful result.

Here are the changes they are suggesting:

-Planning Board Review for site disturbances at defined thresholds by lot size, for building in flood hazard areas and on corner lots.

-Open space percentage requirements by zoning district.

-Slight increases in side yard setbacks for some zoning districts excluding the smallest and largest lots.

-The addition of side and rear yard setbacks for accessory buildings (like garages).

-New maximum floor area ratio (FAR) requirements as defined.

-Change in the definition of “impervious” surfaces to include gravel and asphalt, thereby reducing the amount of impervious space on a lot.

-Sky exposure plane for lots two acres or greater which would permit the maximum height to go from 32 to 36 feet provided that the front of the house is setback a minimum of 75 feet.

zoningrecommendations

The consultants have received comments from the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Board and those changes will be incorporated into future drafts of the proposal.

This initial proposal addressed house bulk and lot coverage, leaving aside issues of tree removals and subdivisions. So for some it did not go far enough to protect Scarsdale’s tree canopy which has seen tremendous losses in recent years. Others feared the new requirements would prevent them from adding on to existing homes and they were not clear on how they would be impacted.

Here are excerpts from some who commented:

Jordan Copeland said, “Sky exposure plane is important. Why not include this provision for other houses as well. My wish is that you can’t build a house with more than 110% of the sky exposure plane of all the other houses on the street. Taller structures right up to the setback are a concern. Expand the sky exposure plane to all neighborhoods.

Paul Diamond, a builder, asked for a clarification of “the definition of disturbance so you don’t necessarily have to go to the Planning Board” for review. He also said the new setbacks would result in non-conforming lots.

Anne Hintermeister said, “This is the board’s answer to bulk and stormwater. I think it’s an insufficient answer to either of these. I think the Planning Board agrees. Fish says “he hopes it will have an impact.” These are modest changes to existing laws. They don’t address subdivisions and replacing 2 homes with one. I don’t think we should pass a law based on what you hope. What will be the changes to runoff – how would this impact situations like Chase and Church Lane? The tree canopy is a huge issue – it is a community asset that makes us special. I don’t think we should allow the diminution of the tree canopy. Preservation of the tree canopy should be mandated. Please read the Forum report.”

Deborah Russel said, “I am disappointed that there is no acknowledgement of the cost of flooding to residents that results in street closures and downed power lines. There is no acknowledgement that its taxpayers who are paying the costs. I don’t hear anyone connecting the dots. I don’t hear them saying that what they are proposing will reduce the problem. Why are we using Mamaroneck as an example? Look hard at the cost of these problems – and show how these proposals are designed for the benefit of Scarsdale’s taxpayers.”

comparison.jpg A comparison of a building plan under the new and the old code.

Jim Detmer said, “On the surface these proposals make sense. But it is difficult to envision how these measures would impact stormwater runoff. A minimal decrease? Is there any way to model an overbuilt lot against what would have been there (under the old laws.) Why do we need building bonuses and far incentives? We must control bulk appearance. We will inadvertently create a townhouse effect with 32 foot houses only 10 feet apart. This is leaderships opportunity to do this – let’s be bold.”

Joan Weissman said, “The proposed amendments are a step in the right direction, but they must be strengthened to have any real impact. The open space requirement is a welcome addition, but a more comprehensive explanation as to how this proposal relates to setbacks and lot coverage is necessary. In any event, in order to truly increase green space, all setbacks and the open space requirement should be increased beyond what is recommended.

The inclusion of porous asphalt and gravel in the definition of impervious surface is long overdue. But, the use of permeable pavers as a substitute is not the answer. Permeable pavers over time lose all or most of their ability to allow water to soak through unless proper maintenance is conducted so that the voids in the joints do not become clogged. This issue is raised in the NYS DEC Stormwater Management Design Manual as well as by NYC and the US Dept of Energy and Environment. There is no feasible way for the village to assure that the requisite maintenance, which may be required several times a year, is carried out. The use of permeable pavers will have the same negative consequences that are experienced with the use of gravel and porous asphalt.

The proposed requirement that the issuance of a certificate of occupancy be based on the Village Building Inspector and Engineer’s review and approval of the As of Built Survey does not address the problem it seeks to solve. By the time construction is completed, it is too late to discover that plans have not been followed. It is imperative that village staff be mandated to review measurements and calculations contained in submitted plans prior to any permit approvals and to carry out inspections throughout the construction process to confirm that approved plans are being followed.

The legislative intent and purpose of the law establishing the moratorium states that among the adverse impacts of development in Scarsdale are the “negative environmental impacts such as the destruction of mature trees and natural habitats.” We all know the crucial role trees play in providing a healthy environment. The recommended code changes do nothing to preserve our village’s trees or natural habitats. The proposed amendment that simply requires certain site plans include a description of the location of different areas of vegetation and of certain trees provides no protection for any vegetation, including trees. I urge the Board to address Scarsdale’s ongoing canopy loss as well as the loss of our natural habitats by making the necessary changes throughout the village code.”

Madelaine Eppenstein discussed the “ongoing exploitation of the Village tree canopy.” She said, “Responsible development should protect the Village tree canopy and not help to destroy it. Trees mitigate stormwater runoff. The last time the tree code was updated was 2018-19 and there were many compromises made. I suggest we go back to this code and protect our environment.”

Linda Killian said, “Most of our community was developed in the early part of the century as a railroad suburb. Our neighborhoods were put together with a lot of thought to setbacks and style – no two were alike. People are objecting to the new cookie cutter houses, that are too large. Would these proposed changes prevent subdivisions like that? On 27 Woods Lane, would these new rules prevent two out of whack, out of context houses from being built there?

Cal Petrescu who is an architect and resident said, “Wider driveways would affect the open space provisions.” Referring to the decrease in the setback bonuses he said, “Without the bonus, developers may increase the width to increase curb appeal. Buyers count on these bonuses. Losing a small bedroom is drastic. Reducing setbacks makes lots non-conforming. Houses will be non-conforming and less likely to sell.”

Barry Abramson said, “These revisions are only a small first step and don’t address the issues of our stormwater infrastructure. I don’t see how this will address our flooding. Even if every new house is in compliance, they will still be larger than the old house it replaces. No one goes smaller in Scarsdale.”

Cathy Liu who is a stormwater engineer said, “The Village has changed the code about gravel several times. I hope in the future we don’t need consultants to tell us that gravel should be considered as impervious. I am also concerned with pervious pavers. They have to be maintained.”

Elaine Weir said, “I am concerned about flooding. The land use proposal does not address this. It does not increase our flood plain which is obsolete. We need a realistic flood map and then we need to increase it to account for climate change. We need to prohibit subdivisions in flood prone areas. It poses risks to the surrounding homes. This causes neighbors costly clean ups – especially when the new house is on landfill. Spacious neighborhoods keep property values up for everyone. We need to prepare Scarsdale for the future by not overbuilding. The current proposal needs to be stronger.”

Claudine Gecel who lives on Kent Road said that a house on her street is flooding. She said, “It’s next to a subdivision and the land for the next house was clear cut.” She said referred to homes built on Fox Meadow Road and Paddington Road using cultecs to store the water. And said “they did not hold the water and a month ago the road needed to be shut down due to flooding.”

Addressing Gecel, builder Eilon Amidor said, “We have a plan to resolve the flooding.” He said, “Every decision limiting development will hurt the Village. We have to make a referendum because it’s a big decision for a lot of people with a lot of money. I am sure the people would vote no. I build in Mamaroneck They need to resolve their flooding issues. I would not use any examples from Mamaroneck. We will have a catastrophic jam at the Planning Board. You’re making problems for designers. You’re making smaller houses. I did a three-lot subdivision – people told me it will look like Queens.”

Sean Danahey said, “Everyone is speaking about changes in our designs. There are unintended consequences. Not being able to expand the house could have serious economic consequences.”

Tom Shorter said, “A lot of homes are being torn down changing village character.” He asked the board to “Protect the ability of homeowners to make changes or else these homes will be ripe picking for the contractors. I don’t see the young residents here. They will find out in a year when they want to expand and find these changes can’t be done.”

Joe Zakierski said, “The proposal is long, difficult to digest and to understand. Many are unaware this is happening. Information is harder to come by. I am concerned that the trustees have the power to sign off on this without wider community input. It is imperative to get more people educated. I like the idea of a town wide vote. Perhaps we should have separate regulations for existing homes and new builds. To make these changes you need to be sure.”

Emilie Cordell asked the consultants to visit some of the properties that are of concern.
She discussed “extraordinary noise caused by rock blasting. Saying “There is no parameters around this.” She said, “Take a look at a street. I live in Edgewood – they are maxing out the lots.”

Mayor Arest replied to Cordell saying that a noise ordinance had recently passed that regulates noise from construction.

Michelle Sterling said, “Permeable pavers are a misnomer. They are impermeable but there are gaps between them. They have to be properly installed. The gaps need to be kept clear of silt and over time those gaps fill up. It takes extensive maintenance. Pavers retain and emit heat while grass cools. Permeable pavers are not permeable.”

Miriam Petrescu said, “Look at all the homes that will become non-conforming. You need to advise the residents.”

Jon Spivak called in and said, “I have barely skimmed this document. I don’t know if this is good or bad. We have to know what this means for us and our homes.”

In comments from the trustees, Dara Gruenberg replied to Joe Zakierski. She said, “I want to address the “lack of transparency.” She said, “We created Scarsdale Official. There is also personal responsibility You need to educate yourself and spend the time. Maybe we can make it more digestible. These are complicated issues that takes time to digest.”

Karen Brew said, “We need to make enough of a difference -and I question whether these go far enough.” She asked the Village Planner to take a look back at houses that have been built and how this would affect those plans.

Ken Mazer asked for an analysis of a random sampling of past BAR applications for home additions and what the new regulations do to these applications.

Jeremy Wise said, “It is complicated. My head is spinning. I would like to see a summary…. one document that is an official document of the board.”

A second work session is planned for June 11 with a vote on the new code on Tuesday June 25, 2024.

See the proposed code and the presentation here.

Sidewalk8The Scarsdale Business Alliance (SBA) is thrilled to announce that the 2024 Summer Sidewalk Sale will take place Thursday, July 25th through Saturday, July 27th in Scarsdale Village, from 10am-6pm, rain or shine.

The SBA is now accepting applications for vendor participation. Click here to contact them. www.scarsdalebusinessalliance.com

In addition to our Village center brick and mortar store members, we welcome other SBA members to participate again this year, with designated spaces provided on Boniface Circle, which will be closed to vehicular traffic. Participation of home-based business members and members located outside of 10583 will be available by lottery.

Vendor participation and placement is on a first-come, first-serve basis. All participants must submit a Hold Harmless form and Certificate of Insurance.

For more information, visit www.scarsdalebusinessalliance.com or email info@scarsdalebusinessalliance.com.

We look forward to offering the community incredible shopping deals, delicious dining options, and fun activities, all while supporting our local retail merchants.sidewalk2024

ChurchLaneWhat will be the outcome of a six-month building moratorium in Scarsdale? Will oversized homes on undersized lots be a thing of the past? How close is too close to the property line or the street for a home to be built? How much of a lot can be covered with impervious surfaces? Will treasured historic homes continue to be knocked down and replaced with two cookie cutter homes jammed onto a lot in the place of one?

These were just some of the issues that elicited a petition from concerned residents in October 2023 and led to the establishment of a building moratorium in January 2024. During the moratorium the Village took a pause on the approval of new building applications and retained BFJ Planning to study and make recommendations on the following:

-Reduce the appearance of bulk
-Reduce stormwater runoff
-Architectural guidelines for principal dwellings
-Maximum buildout analysis
-Historic preservation of older homes

The charge was to examine these issues and “develop specific zoning code changes that effectively address the community’s concerns.”

Working with the consultants were Acting Village Manager Alexandra Marshall, Village Planner Kellan Cantrell, Village Engineer David Goessl, Building Inspector Frank Diodati, Superintendent of Public Works Jeff Coleman, and Village Attorney Nicholas Ward Willis. The Mayor and Trustees Brew and Gans also attended some meetings.

Now five months later, at a work session on Tuesday May 14, 2024, the consultants provided their recommendations to address three items on the list and suggested that two additional items, architectural guidelines and historic preservation, could be examined in a separate contract at a later date.

In order to address lot coverage and home bulk BFJ proposed a long series of changes to existing code. Though many of the proposed changes look like modest tweaks to current regulations, the cover memo from the consultants explains, “Each recommendation alone would not be drastic: however, when combined, they address the two main issues described in the moratorium: the appearance of bulk and stormwater impact.”

Listening to the presentation, it was difficult to envision the potential effects of these changes. Would they prevent some of the most egregious examples of overbuilding that led to the moratorium?

For example, for a house on 1/3 of an acre (15,000 square feet), would increasing the side yard setback by a foot on either 27WoodsNeighbors fought an application to demolish 27 Woods Lane, which the buyers proposed to take down and build two homes in its place. Would the new laws prevent that?side, and taking 90 square feet off a 4,800 square foot house noticeably reduce the appearance of bulk? Without renderings, simulations and visual examples of how these new regulations would impact the design and siting of new homes it was hard to know. Perhaps the consultants can provide these visuals so that residents and builders can envision the potential impacts of the revisions.

The report also suggested far reaching changes in the application process, shifting some decisions from the Board of Architectural Review to the Planning Board, and requiring variances for work on non-conforming lots which would be provided by the Zoning Board of Appeals. From the presentation, it was difficult to understand the new approval process; which board would see the application first and how an application would proceed. More work is needed to clarify these points, as in the past, applicants have exploited gaps in procedure to get around Village Code.

Here are highlights of the proposal. Review the entire document here:

Role of the Planning Board

The code change would increase the role of the Planning Board. All applications for building within flood hazard areas would need to get the approval of the Planning Board.

Planning Board review would also be required for any development that impacts the adjoining property buffer. How much disturbance would trigger the need for Planning Board approval? A graduated chart of the thresholds of the percentage of the site that is disturbed for each zoning district is included. Would the Planning Board have the authority to deny an application based on issues with site disturbance?

site disturbance

As the Village currently has no regulations for potential flooding during construction, developers building in flood zones would need to provide and get approval for a Construction Management Plan to show how they are going to protect neighbors from excess water and soil runoff during the building process.

Homes on corner lots, which often appear to be too bulky would also need to be reviewed by the Planning Board due to “their unique sight lines and high visibility.”caarthageroadA new home on a corner lot on Carthage Road

Open Space Requirement

Another new requirement would be to set requirements for the amount of open space on each lot size. The proposal defines open space as “unoccupied by any structure, building, parking, paving, or other surfaces deemed to be impervious, and which is vegetated and open to the sky, either it is natural unimproved state or landscaped with lawn, trees and other plants, natural rock outcropping, natural water features or wetlands.” The effect should be to limit the coverage of the home, patio, driveway and accessory buildings and preserve green space.

Side Yard setbacks


The consultants propose modest increase in side yard setbacks for most lot sizes. For instance, for 1/4 acre lots, the side yard setback is now 10 feet. The new requirement would be 12 feet. Setbacks for accessory buildings like garages would also be required.

Floor Area Ratio

The proposal includes a small change to the Floor Area Ratio calculation by rounding off the decimal in the formula to the nearest 100th.. place. The change in total FAR permitted is negligible.

Builder’s Bonus

Current building code grants bonus square footage of 100 square feet of floor space for each foot that a house is set back beyond the minimum side yard set back in all zones except those in AA-1 – which are lots of 2 acres and above. Currently, there is a maximum bonus of 280 feet for zones A4 (.17 acres) and A5 (.11 acres), and a maximum of 490 square feet for lots in A2 (half acre) A-2a (1/3 acre) and A3 (1/4 acre) and 840 square feet for homes in A1 on one acre lots.

The consultants recommend small reductions in the bonus as show in the chart below. No one discussed the possibility of eliminating the bonuses all together.

bonuschart

Impervious Surfaces

In order to safeguard open space to reduce flooding, building code defines how much of a lot can be impervious, meaning covered by a building, a driveway, a patio etc. Currently gravel and porous asphalt is considered “pervious” and thus allows more lot coverage. The consultants recommend changing these definitions so that gravel and porous asphalt are considered impervious and counted in the lot coverage formula. They also propose allowing the use of “permeable pavers,” instead of gravel or asphalt.

Lot Coverage

The proposal includes reductions in the permissible lot coverage on lots 1/3 acre and greater. See the chart here:

Lot Coverage

Height of Homes on Lots 2 Acres or Greater

The proposal includes a “sky incentive” to permit those building on 2 acres or more to increase their setbacks and be permitted to increase the height of the roof from 32 feet to 36 feet in order to create pitched roofs in proportion to the home.

Height of Homes in Flood Hazard Areas

The consultants suggest permitting homes built in flood hazard areas to be permitted 3 feet more in roof height (35 feet). This was suggested so that the entire home could be raised out of the flood plain. However, currently Scarsdale discourages any building in flooded areas so it was not clear why this proposal was drafted.

Escrow

Under the proposed code change, the Village could require applicants to escrow funds to reimburse the Village for fees for the professional review of applications or a SEQRA review. The Village would not issue a certificate of occupancy unless all professional review fees charges had been paid.

What’s Next?

Once the trustees approve the proposed changes the proposed code would be referred to the Westchester County Planning Board and the Scarsdale Planning Board for review, a report and a recommendation. A SEQRA review of the draft law would also be required.

In the discussion that followed the presentation, trustees noted the increased role of the Planning Board and questioned whether more training would be needed, if the size of the Planning Board would need to be increased, if they would need to meet more frequently and if more members would need to be added to the board.

Also discussed was the fact that the consultants had delineated building requirements by zoning district rather than lot size. Since there are variations in lot sizes in districts, in some cases this would permit more rather than less coverage and home size.

Discussing non-conforming lots which would result from the new code, the question was posed, “If the setbacks changed, would you be permitted to build a second story over the first with the original setback?” The answer was that the resident would need a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The Mayor noted that the code proposal did not address historic preservation, as there was not enough time during the six month moratorium to address the preservation laws as well as the building code. Since many of the building issues are a result of home demolitions, problems may still occur.

The code changes also did not address subdivisions and tree removals or the recommendations of the Scarsdale Forum which some hoped would be included in the proposal. Front yard setbacks were not addressed either. Often an older home, which is set back from the street at a gracious distance is replaced with one that looms over the sidewalk. These were many of the issues that brought dismayed residents to Village Hall in the first place.

The Village Board plans to hold two work sessions on the proposed code changes on May 28 and June 11, 2024. The current moratorium expires on July 19, 2024. If the changes are approved by the Westchester County Planning Board and the Scarsdale Planning Board and get SEQRA approval the new code would go into effect in January 2025. Until that time, the current code remains in place.

It will be interesting to see if all of the questions can be resolved in just eight weeks.

John Clapp who Chairs the Scarsdale Planning Board provided comments to the Village Board on the code proposal.

Summarizing the Planning Board memo, they support the following:

-Site plan review for land disturbances

-Increases in minimum side yard setbacks

-Reclassification of porous asphalt and gravel as impervious

They had concerns about permitting height increase in the FEMA floodplain as they do not support any development in the floodplain.

They said further work needs to be done on the lot coverage and building formulas.

They said they did not think the open space requirement would have much impact due to the lot coverage requirements and that they height increase for 2 acre lots would apply to very few properties.

redoakResidents have been advocating to save this 200 year old tree. An applicant wants to build a driveway in front of the house which would compromise the tree's roots.About site plan review for FEMA floodplain and corner lots, accessory building and FAR amendments they are “neutral” or have “no opinion.”

Given the short time frame for enacting the new code, they recommended the assignment of a “drafting committee” to “accurately implement the recommendations, harmonize them with Village code and identify and address unintended consequences.”

Madelaine Eppenstein, President of Friends of the Scarsdale Parks and a a member of the Board of the Scarsdale Forum, sent us this comment about the proposal. "Many if not all land use issues discussed at the Village Board’s work session on May 14, from impervious surfaces to grading with fill, to zoning and bulk have an intimate, existential connection to the ongoing exploitation of Scarsdale’s tree canopy. Responsible development and adequate code provisions should be protecting the Village tree canopy, not helping to destroy it, despite the well-known services trees provide to mitigate flooding, stormwater runoff, sequester carbon dioxide in the air we breathe, and others. Scarsdale Forum’s February report on these issues sets forth specific recommendations for code amendments and a request for a meeting of stakeholders, which, regrettably, has yet to be acknowledged or scheduled by the Village Board."

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