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You are here: Home Section Table Village Voices Village Board Reviews Heathcote Bridge Rehabilitation, Sidewalk Cafes and the Potential for Cannabis Sales
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Village Board Reviews Heathcote Bridge Rehabilitation, Sidewalk Cafes and the Potential for Cannabis Sales

A lively Village Board meeting on Tuesday November 9, 2021 included an update on the rehabilitation of the Heathcote Bridge, a hearing on Sidewalk Cafes in the Village, a response to the demolition of a historic Fox Meadow Tudor home and lengthy public comments urging the Village to opt out of cannabis dispensaries and lounges before December 31, 2021.

Demolition at 41 Hampton Road

The Mayor, Village Manager and Deputy Village Manager all commented on the demolition of a good portion of a historic Tudor style home on Hampton Road in Fox Meadow. An application to demolish the home was before the Committee for Historic Preservation, who appeared poised to preserve it based on the expert opinion of architectural historian Andrew Dolkart. However, before the committee could vote to preserve it, the homeowner filed an application with the Board of Architectural Review to demolish 50% of it, received approval and proceeded.41Hampton11 3 21

The Village received many inquiries about the home and Mayor Jane Veron said that since the Board of Trustees serves as the appeals authority for cases decided by the Committee for Historic Preservation, they could not comment. However she said, “We are listening and [the board will then] take the appropriate steps to understand the issue being raised and craft any solutions our examination of the issue may determine necessary.”

Village Manager Rob Cole said they are “investigating, listening to the facts and will chart a path forward.” He said, “ We will see if changes to our policies are necessary.” Justin Arest, Deputy Mayor, said, “There are times when we realize that we need to change or strengthen our code.” He related this history of a change made to the historic preservation law a few years ago to allow the Committee for Historic Preservation to preserve historic properties.

Heathcote Bridge Rehabilitation

The Board received an update on plans for the rehabilitation of the Heathcote Bridge, which was built in 1910 and includes three traffic lanes and sidewalks on both sides. The 140 foot long bridge that traverses the Heathcote Bypass, currently has a 3 out of 7 structural rating, and is inspected every year. Two red flags, currently inactive, highlight the importance of repairs. The flags are for the south abutment, where four girders are supported by a temporary structure and the piers load rating resulting in load posting of 8 tons.

HeathcoteBridgeIn 2018, the Village received a federal grant of $1.68mm to repair the bridge. The Village is required to match this funding by paying an additional 5%,

At the meeting on November 9, 2021, Jeremy Bordeaux, an engineer with Barton and Loguidice, was invited to provide an overview and status update of the work. The project’s priorities are to address the structural issues, however superstructure repairs and additional repairs (including cleaning and painting the whole structure (which are not feasible under current BridgeNY funding) are lower priorities.

The repair work will bring the bridge to a rating of 5. In order to reach the highest rating, 7, the bridge woud need to be fully replaced. The bridge will remain open to traffic and pedestrians during the work.

Questions and concerns were raised on the durability of the repairs, the limits of the budget and the potential adverse impact, ranging from construction noise to air pollution, on the neighboring community during the construction.

The schedule aims for construction to begin in June 2022, with a completion by the end of that year, pending final design approval in February 2022 and bidding in April of that year.

Sidewalk Cafes and the Dining TentDiningTent

Two resolutions were presented for public hearing together, the first - a local law amending Chapter 245 of the Scarsdale Village Code entitled Sidewalk Cafes, allowing the outdoor dining tent in Scarsdale Village to be maintained year round, and a local law amending Chapter 256 of the Scarsdale Village Code, entitled streets, sidewalks and public places. This amendment would allow businesses to display and or sell goods, wares and merchandise on or directly above Village-owned rights of way. These resolutions will be voted on at the next Village Board Meeting , on November 23rd, at 8:00 p.m.

Susan Douglass, who is the Vice President of the Scarsdale Forum, and Chair of the Downtown Revitalization Committee whose objective is to “make downtown a destination” spoke in support of the amendments. Ms. Douglas stressed that sidewalk cafes and outdoor display wares “gives people more interest to come to the downtown and to stay in the downtown and spend time there.”

Public Comments

Cannabis Sales

A significant portion of comments were focused on the proposal to opt out of the new state Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). If the Village does not opt out, cannabis retail sales and smoking lounges will be permitted. Most comments passionately pushed to opt out. Listen to the comments here:

Anne Hintermeister, commenting “as a resident and not on behalf of the Scarsdale Forum,” raised concerns over what “state regulatory and licensing regime looks like, to see to what extent local governments will have any control before making a decision to have a cannabis store.” She said, “the interests of the state Cannabis Board do not necessarily align with ours,” and that the Village’s local governance may not have as much control. She warned, “Is there any benefit we would lose by opting out now and opting in later?”

Susan Douglass, highlighting the Scarsdale Forum’s position to opt out, underlined concerns over retail appearance. She spoke on behalf of DJ Petta, a landlord owning about 80% of commercial space, and quoted him: “We believe the Village should take the position of opting out at this time.” Ms. Douglass voiced her concern over how cannabis would be marketed, “trying to rack up sales by luring in children, precisely what happened in the vaping industry.”

Darlene LeFrancois Haber, a doctor and internist, spoke at length about the negative health impacts of recreational usage of marijuana. She emphasized the health issues, that “long term risks are mainly concentrated in adolescents,” and urged the Village Board to opt out.

Abby Fine, adding her voice to the opt out option, shared her concern “about pollution and safe disposal of any, you know, objects that may be used from these cannabis stores.”

Weinberg Nature Center

Brian Rosenthal spoke about the Weinberg Nature Center, praising its role in his children’s life, and the “magnetic personality” of Executive Director Sam Weinstock. Mr. Rosenthal pushed for Mr. Weinstock’s role to be made full time, adding that the Forest Preschool program doubled the revenue for the center, even though Mr. Weinstock is part time. Mr. Rosenthal’s comments and wishes were supported by several other speakers who asked for additional fiscal support for the center.

Eugenie Rosenthal called the center “a critical respite,” and “an excellent counterpoint to a community of “competition, materialism and consumerism.” She called it a “healthy, healthy, healthy” place that “makes Scarsdale a destination.” She said, “programs like this are the reason some of the people moved here.”

Janice Montefiore also supported increasing Mr. Weinstock's salary.

Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps

ambulanceDavid Raizen, President of the Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps, detailed the extensive work done this year including vaccines for homebound residents, COVID tests, and a paramedicine program to treat people at home. He appealed for more volunteer members and offers EMT training. He also asked for residents to support the fund drive as it is thanks to “the generosity of residents and corporations that we're able to do what we do without tax dollars being put to use directly.” His work was met with extensive gratitude by the Village Board.

Bob Harrison highlighted many letters on repairing the Scarsdale Pool, stating we need to “modernize the municipal pool … the pool is one our community's greatest assets and we don't need to change it and change its design.”

Noise from Fenway Golf Club

Lisa Singer from Hazelton Drive, the final speaker, brought up noise complaints against Fenway Golf Club, claiming they have “parties every weekend, sometimes even on Sundays, it's all outside. It reverberates through the neighborhood. We hear it.... I don't know what to do. I can hear what the DJ says in my master bedroom. ... maybe you can do a decibel test? It's just not fair."

Resolutions

Deputy Mayor Justin K. Arest introduced two resolutions, on the placement of a Menorah in Chase Park and a lighting ceremony, and the placement of Menorah in Boniface Circle. Both resolutions were approved.

Trustee Randall B. Whitestone introduced two resolutions regarding an intermunicipal agreements with Westchester County for youth programs. The first resolution would provide a positive youth development program, entitled “Youth Sports Program,” and the second resolution would provide a positive youth development program, entitled “Community Youth Service Project.” Both resolutions were adopted.

Mr. Whitestone introduced a final resolution for a professional services agreement with the Humane Society of Westchester, Inc. D/B/A New Rochelle Humane Society, to provide “proper care for all animals for the village.” The resolution was adopted.

Light the ‘Dale

The Village will hold their annual Light the “Dale celebration in Scarsdale Village on Friday December 3rd from 5-7 pm. Everyone is encouraged to attend.

Comments from Mayor Jane Veron

Here are opening comments from Mayor Jane Veron that shed light on the issues above and more, including continued work to find a location for a dog park:

You’ve heard our board speak regularly about improvements to Village strategic and financial planning and the new framework to guide the process. We are thrilled tonight that after articulating where we want to head, we reach another important milestone. Earlier this evening in our public work session, we met with our auditor, as we do annually. But this year was different. Instead of a review ofVeron2021 the financial statements in the format we have historically used, we examined our financials as an Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. To those not close to these matters, you might think it semantics; but in fact, our new approach enables us to forecast and manage capital spending in a way that affords much greater transparency. You will also hear, in just a few minutes, an overview of the reengineered budget process. Please join us in upcoming work sessions as we engage with department heads well before they finalize their plans. We will collaborate on goals and objectives, have constructive give and take, and align on resource requirements.

Work sessions through year-end will include not only our pre-budget meetings but also matters that we’ve been previously discussing.

First, there are legal matters:

On Tuesday, November 16, we will again be reviewing our telecom code. We have gone back to our attorneys with board and community feedback from our October work session. We will review revised language that affords Scarsdale the maximum amount of permissible control. Our goal is to update our code in short order. Thereafter, we will seek to close coverage gaps as they impede public safety and resident convenience.

We have two other pressing legal matters this month. With the Board’s consent, we plan to hold public hearings on November 23 to discuss whether Scarsdale should opt out of permitting two types of cannabis businesses, retail dispensaries and/or consumption lounges, within Scarsdale’s borders. This issue has generated a lot of community interest, and the Board has received many emails, reports, statements, and calls from individuals and community groups. The public hearing will provide the community an additional opportunity to express views before the December 14 Board vote. On Nov 23, I will also ask the Board to share their preliminary thoughts having had the time to digest materials from both prior work sessions. The Board must take action by December 31 in order to have any possibility of opting out. The decision to opt out now does not preclude the ability to opt back in later.

The Board is also proposing a related law that will restrict smoking of both tobacco and cannabis products in Village facilities, recreation spaces such as fields, playgrounds, parks and Village parking lots, Village vehicles and also in Village business districts. In these places, we seek a smoke-free environment for members of the public and for Village employees.

Finally, tonight, we offer you the opportunity to comment on proposed code changes to make permanent sidewalk cafes and to extend the selling of wares on sidewalks in Scarsdale retail hubs. One of COVID’s silver linings was our ability to offer creative solutions for outdoor dining, and the community embraced our efforts. Thank you for taking this leap of faith with us, and now we have the chance to codify it. We will also continue to test the use of sidewalks for selling wares and evaluate for the next calendar year.

In addition to legal matters, Quality of Life and Infrastructure initiatives keep percolating. Next week, it is our hope that we continue our dog park conversation. We know many residents are eager for us to provide a place for dogs to run and for dog owners to congregate. The biggest issue is location. Staff have persisted in exploring options, and they will update the board and community. In subsequent weeks, we also plan to discuss the Ida After Action Report, Water Rate Study and signs.

This is the time of year for remembrance and celebration. We will be honoring our veterans this Thursday, November 11 at Veteran Memorial Park at 10:30 am. Please join us to pay tribute. And please mark your calendar for the return of Light the ‘Dale, in person, on Friday Dec 3 from 5-7 pm. We look forward to a decorated, spirited and fun-filled community-building event.

Before I conclude, there has been community talk regarding a land use matter, specifically related to 41 Hampton. As some of you may be aware, the Village Board serves as the appeals authority for cases decided by the Committee for Historic Preservation. As such, we must refrain from making comments that could be viewed as an effort to influence the CHP’s review process. That said, the Village Board and staff also have a responsibility to be responsive to public concerns – to let our community know that we are listening, and then to take the appropriate steps to understand the issue being raised and craft any solutions our examination of the issue may determine necessary. We take these responsibilities quite seriously.

Even when we cannot speak specifically, I do find it helpful to share the process used to investigate and resolve matters of public concern. This process relates to matters such as those I highlighted earlier, such as telecom regulations or marijuana establishments, this particular land use issue and a myriad other examples.

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