Two Local Clubs Receive Substantial Tax Refunds from Scarsdale Village and the Scarsdale Schools
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
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Two local country clubs will receive substantial tax settlements from the Village of Scarsdale. The settlements are a result of assessment appeals which resulted in lower assessments for both clubs from the years 2014 to 2020.
As a result, Fox Meadow Tennis Club will receive $30,500 from Scarsdale Village and another $106,430 from the Scarsdale Schools for a total of $136,930.
Quaker Ridge Golf Club will receive far more. The settle is for $130,000 from the Village, and $403,979 from the Scarsdale Schools for a total of $533,979. The school refund will be made in three annual payments of $134,659 per year.
Together, the refunds will be a substantial loss to the Village and School budgets at a time when they are both struggling to minimize tax increases.
Why were the two properties overassessed? The disparity stems from their assessment as private vs. public clubs. We asked Scarsdale Village Assessor Victoria Sirota for an explanation. Below is her response outlining the Village portion of these refunds.
"The Town/Village has recently settled two separate Tax Certioraris commenced by the Quaker Ridge Golf Club and the Fox Meadow Tennis Club. These settlements represent Assessment Appeals for each of the six years at issue from 2014 through 2020.
The Quaker Ridge Golf Club market values for the years at issue ranged from $13,000,000 to $15,700,000 and the settlement market values ranged from $11,000,000 to $9,300,000, resulting in Town/Village tax refunds totaling approximately $130,000.
The Fox Meadow Tennis Club market values for the six years at issue were approximately $3,000,000 and the settlement market values ranged from $1,600,000 to $2,800,000, resulting in Town/Village refunds totaling $30,500.
For property tax purposes, there are two types of Golf/Country Clubs: public and private. Private clubs are generally high-end and more valuable than public courses. However, based on the valuation methodology accepted by the Westchester County Supreme Court a decade ago, regardless of whether a Golf/Country club is public or private, it is valued as if they were operated as a public for-profit facility. The methodology utilized in the valuation of such private facilities is based on the potential income and expenses, i.e., revenue from golf, pro shop, pool, food, tennis, etc., generated from similar public facilities in the region. Being superior in the quality of construction, design, and offering more and better amenities than public facilities, private facilities generate substantially higher income and higher valuations. As such, the value of private facilities should be higher than that of their public counterparts. However, due to the valuation methodology adopted by the Courts, consideration is not given to the Club’s actual revenue for tax purposes – rather, it is based on public facility comparisons.
The Quaker Ridge Golf Club is a not-for-profit corporation, and the subject property is operated as a private club. As noted above, the value of Quaker Ridge Golf Club would seemingly be valued as a private, profitable club, but it is not. The Westchester County Courts view this property as being similar in value to that of public courses in the County. Private swimming and tennis facilities, such as the Fox Meadow Tennis Club, are treated in the same fashion as private golf facilities in that their value is based on income and expenses obtained from swim and tennis clubs in the area, rather than the actual income of the subject property.
Please note that appeals reaching the Westchester County Supreme Court routinely take multiple years to be litigated. Because they are multi-year settlements, the dollar values are generally higher than single year settlements, of course."
Scarsdale Woman's Club Concert with Bob Arthurs Jazz Trio
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 1031
Bob Arthurs Jazz Trio Wednesday, July 28, 2021, 7– 9 pm(rain date July 29)
The Music Section of The Scarsdale Woman’s Club has planned an outdoor fundraising concert on the grounds of the Scarsdale Woman’s Club, 37 Drake Road Scarsdale, N.Y. Seating for the concert is in front of the Club House. The funds raised at the performance will be used to support the Music Section’s programs. Bob Arthurs is a jazz musician and recording artist who has performed in the United States and abroad. Selections from the Great American Song book will be played by the Trio with Bob Arthurs, trumpet, Steve LaMattina, guitar, and Scott Fragala, bass.
Throughout his performing and recording career, Bob has taught jazz improvisation. He was a faculty member at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains, NY where he was Chair of the Conservatory's Jazz Department. Bob has played with well-known musicians such as Sal Mosca, Lee Conitz, Wayne Marsh, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Carmen Leggio. He is a founding member of the Tristan Quartet which is recorded on his CD Notes from the Underground. For the last several summers, he has coordinated the jazz division for the Music in the Alps Festival in Bad Gastein, Austria.
The Jazz concert is open to the public. Tickets are $25 each and checks are to be made out to the Scarsdale Woman’s Club. Reservations may be made by calling 914 220-2387. The Scarsdale Woman’s Club follows the NYS recommendations for outdoor gatherings regarding Covid-19.
BOT Sets Public Hearing on Zoning Code Amendments to Reduce Home Bulk
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 859
Though Scarsdale residents have complained for years about the size and height of new homes and additions, they received little solace when they complained to the Building Department or went before the Board of Architectural Review. Savvy builders, skilled at maximizing the size of homes, exploited the zoning code to earn bonuses in the allowable square footage.
Seeking to address these concerns, a Bulk Review Committee, the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the Board of Architectural Review, and the Planning Department studied the issues and ultimately formulated a list of recommended changes to the zoning code to reduce the size of Scarsdale homes. In January 2021, the Village Board sent these recommendations to the Planning Board for review, and now the Planning Board has endorsed them.
In their memo to the Board of Trustees, the Planning Board explains, “One way is to look at bulk as the proliferation of homes that tower over, and are inconsistent with the scale of neighboring homes. The Planning Board understands that the floor area ratio (FAR) regulations already in place were implemented to address this issue and have been largely successful at preventing the construction of more “McMansions.” The other way to look at bulk is the gradual change in the character of the neighborhood over time as more and more new homes are built that use the maximum allowable floor area. As this trend continues, homes become taller and closer together. The Planning Board believes that the proposed changes, in combination address the latter issue.”
The Planning Board recommended that these recommendations, in particular the first three, be considered as a combined package, not as separate recommendations to be implemented individually.
Here are the five recommended changes:
1-Reduce the maximum permitted roof height from 35 feet to 32 feet;
2-Reduce the FAR side yard setback bonus by 30%;
Under current Village code a builder can add 100 square feet of floor area for each foot a house is setback beyond the required side yard set back. The new law would reduce that to 70 square feet of floor space for each foot the house is set back beyond the required minimum.
3-Eliminate the requirement that any home addition must be to the rear of the home in order to utilize the side yard FAR bonus;
This was found to incentivize builders to tear down existing homes rather than renovate them.
4-Clarify the Village Code to specify that the FAR garage credit applies to the square footage of the floor level of the garage where cars are parked, excluding space on upper floors.
This bonus was intended only for the floor area of the garage, not for any square footage in a second floor built above the garage, which is now included in the calculation.
5-Require Planning Board Site Plan approval for single family residential projects involving more than 15,000 square feet of gross floor area, eliminating review through a Special Use Permit from the Board of Appeals.
These changes will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday July 13, 2021 at the meeting of the Village Board at Scarsdale Village Hall.
Severe Rainstorm Causes Flooding in Scarsdale
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
- Hits: 2329
The severe rainstorm on July 8 caused flooding, road closures and trouble for drivers and homeowners. Police, firemen and staff from the highway department set up barricades on flooded streets to prevent cars from getting stuck in deep water.
We received the photo above of a car swamped in the high school parking lot and a report of kids swimming in the flooded lot just before midnight on July 8, 2021.
Also reported were:
At 3:03 pm --Flooding on Rugby Lane where a resident thought a water main had broken – but the problem was the rain.
At 3:30 pm - A tree branch fell on a power line at the intersection of Heathcote and Post Roads
At 3:40 pm – a car flooded on Brookby Road and had to be towed away.
At 3:42 pm - a car flooded at Popham Road and Depot Place and was towed away.
At 3:50 pm – a telephone pole at 2 Weaver Street was struck by lightening.
At 3:53 pm – a car was stuck in high water at the intersection of Paddington and Fox Meadow Roads and was towed.
At 4:07 pm – Greendale Road flooded and was closed.
At 4:20 pm – the intersection of Sprague and Clarence Road flooded and the road was closed.
At 4:32 pm – a car got stuck at the intersection of Sprague and Clarence Roads.
At 5:45 pm –a bus got stuck at the same location and had to be evacuated All the passengers were driven to their destinations and the bus was towed.
At 7:45 am on July 9 – a large tree fell on the Bypass.
From the Village Board: Leaf Blower Ban, Band Concerts, Village Manager Search and Tax Grievances
- Written by Sammy Silberberg
- Hits: 1140
As an increased number of residents become fully vaccinated and Covid-19 case numbers continue to decline, things are started to feel back to normal for the Scarsdale Village. During the Board of Trustee Business Meeting on June 8, Mayor Jane Veron addressed some of the events that will be reinstated this summer, such as Westchester Band concerts, and the full return of Village staff to Village Hall.
Mayor Veron spoke about many topics in her comments, and her full statement is available at the bottom of this article: Here is an excerpt from her remarks where she addressed acceptance and safety in Scarsdale:
“One of the unifying themes of this board is the strong desire to Stand Against Hate in all of its myriad and insidious forms. We stand strong to support Black Lives Matter and to stop AAPI Hate. We recognize Pride month and support the LGBTQ community. And just today, we reaffirm that we will not tolerate antisemitism. We have joined with the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Jewish Committee to lend our name to the Mayors United Against Antisemitism. We all aspire to a world that celebrates what makes each of us unique, and we expect Scarsdale to lead with a welcoming and inclusive spirit.”
Mayor Veron also spoke about the search for a new Village Manager. She stated:
“By our May 24 deadline, we received fifty-six applications for the Village Manager position. Over the past couple weeks, GovHR conducted further vetting and follow up and narrowed the field to the top 14 candidates. GovHR is now performing extensive background checks, media searches, reference calls and zoom interviews. The Board and GovHR developed carefully crafted questions specific to Scarsdale needs, reflecting the input we received on your survey responses. After the completion of this evaluation round, the Board will receive a full report from GovHR. The next step will be a comprehensive review and discussion to identify the top candidates who will be invited to advance to the next round. The Board anticipates conducting in person interviews the week of July 19. We will also provide an opportunity for staff and the public to meet the top candidates to offer their input.”
Leaf Blower Ban
During Village Manager Pappalardo's comments, he addressed a topic at the forefront of many residents' minds – gas-powered leaf blower enforcement. Although the Board banned the use of these noisy and disruptive blowers at this time of year, enforcement and education of the new law is a challenge. Handouts were provided to residents that summarized the new law, and summonses were issued as of June 1, 2021. While the village focused on education and awareness of the policy in May, they will now be issuing penalties. Thus far, 4 violations have been issued.
Resident Susan Douglas highlighted this issue during Public Comment and stated that when she talks to people who are violating the ban, they usually say they didn't know about the change. She asked what the Board is doing in terms of outreach and communication. Deputy Manager Rob Cole emphasized that May was an education period and that the village handed out notices, sent direct mailings to every landscaper in the database, and notified the landscaping association. In addition, warnings were issued to 71 homes violating the law in May, and communications were posted on the village website and spoken about extensively at Board meetings. Manager Pappalardo also stated that the village hired two additional part-time Code Enforcement Officers. With the current staff, the village will now have coverage seven days a week to respond to complaints and enforce the law.
Manager Pappalardo also announced that Grievance Day Hearings will be held on June 15, 2021, between 10am-12pm and 7-9pm. The village will hear taxpayer grievances and review the formal complaints over the summer. Any reductions determined after deliberations will be filed by the village by September 15, 2021. Thus far, 40 grievance applications have been filed, and the filing deadline is June 15. During public comment, longtime Scarsdale resident Bob Harrison said that he is available cost-free to help people file their grievance charges. If you have any questions about the process or need assistance, you can reach Mr. Harrison at 914-646-4054 (cell) or 914-725-0962 (home).
Kyle John Barry
During the meeting, the Board adopted four measures. These included Supplemental Appropriations for Capital Budgets for Road Milling and Paving, the Levy of Village Taxes for 2021-2022, and the authorization to hold the Scarsdale Business Alliance Annual Sidewalk Sale. The final measure was the acceptance of a gift to honor Scarsdale resident Kyle John Barry. Kyle grew up down the street from Davis Park and recently passed away just days after his 28th birthday. He attended Edgewood Elementary and Scarsdale High School, and his friends and family gifted the village $1,400 to purchase a new bench and hornbeam tree in his honor in Davis Park.
Good evening everyone and welcome back Village staff. You’ve finally all returned to Village Hall, no longer working in cohorts but united together. It is so nice to see Village Hall back to normal, in new normalcy kind of way.
The Board is now two months into our term, and as we’ve been describing in our communications, we have established a clear process to study and manage priorities for the Village. Our new framework provides a roadmap with accountability and transparency. With weekly Tuesday work sessions, we continue to press forward on all fronts, making sure each pillar and enabler of government receives attention. I will highlight a few tonight:
Quality of Life Pillar
Over these past couple weeks, the Quality of Life Pillar has been prominent in our minds. Quality of Life is a somewhat ephemeral concept. While sometimes hard to measure with clear metrics, we certainly know when it is strong. There are most definitely environmental factors that connote good quality of life - a strong infrastructure, reliable public safety, economic vitality and the beauty and peace of tree-lined streets - but those are not sufficient. To achieve the highest quality of life, everyone must feel a sense of belonging. Each resident, worker, friend, and visitor must be put at ease and feel welcome when in our Village.
One of the unifying themes of this board is the strong desire to Stand Against Hate in all of its myriad and insidious forms. We stand strong to support Black Lives Matter and to stop AAPI Hate. We recognize Pride month and support the LGBTQ community. And just today, we reaffirm that we will not tolerate antisemitism. We have joined with the United States Conference of Mayors and the American Jewish Committee to lend our name to the Mayors United Against Antisemitism. We all aspire to a world that celebrates what makes each of us unique, and we expect Scarsdale to lead with a welcoming and inclusive spirit.
The arts also play an important role in lifting up and binding together the community. To the many residents and fans who have flooded our inboxes asking for the reinstitution of Westchester Bands concerts, we are thrilled to report that Brian Gray, our Superintendent of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, and Steve Pappalardo, our Village Manager, moved heaven and earth to pave the way for the Band’s safe return. We will be back to the Thursday night rhythm and a new sense of normalcy. More details to follow.
Infrastructure, Municipal Services and Sustainability Pillar
Our Superintendent of Public Works Jeff Coleman and his team are diligent when it comes to tracking and repairing our infrastructure. Roads are always at the top of our residents’ wish list, and we have kept them a high priority even during the pandemic. Tonight you will see that we will be able to increase our NYSDOT funded road milling and paving budget for 2020/21 and 2021/22 by $375K. We are eager recipients of supplemental NY State funding.
In the water department, we also keep up-to-date on our repair needs so that residents enjoy a clean and reliable water supply. The recent report shared at our May 24 work session outlined a multi decade plan to make needed improvements. With this road map, we will have the foresight to make proactive plans and measured improvements, synchronize with road repaving, and ensure that future generations have no reason to worry. We also position ourselves at the ready should we receive Federal infrastructure grants that seem to be percolating in Washington.
Public Safety Pillar
We are exceedingly lucky to have extraordinary public safety officials who work tirelessly to keep us safe and secure. Our police, fire, SVAC, and public safety volunteers are among the very best. One of the cornerstones of public safety success is the partnership forged with stakeholders. Later this week, the Village and the School will come together in a 2x2 to talk about our collaboration. We will review our collective approach to traffic volume at the schools, communications amongst Village and School colleagues, and our coordinated emergency response.
In addition to our work on Village Pillar fundamentals, we continue to press forward on our special assignments. First and foremost is the Village Manager Search which continues in earnest. By our May 24 deadline, we received fifty-six applications for the Village Manager position. Over the past couple weeks, GovHR conducted further vetting and follow up and narrowed the field to the top 14 candidates. GovHR is now performing extensive background checks, media searches, reference calls and zoom interviews. The Board and GovHR developed carefully crafted questions specific to Scarsdale needs, reflecting the input we received on your survey responses. After the completion of this evaluation round, the Board will receive a full report from GovHR. The next step will be a comprehensive review and discussion to identify the top candidates who will be invited to advance to the next round. The Board anticipates conducting in person interviews the week of July 19. We will also provide an opportunity for staff and the public to meet the top candidates to offer their input.
A second special assignment, the Pool Complex Market Study and Assessment, is being queued up for discussion at an upcoming work session. The working group along with Deputy Village Manager Cole have discussed the objectives of an RFP and the Committee of the Whole will review the document and its goals this month. Our hope is to add this item to a work session in short order, and we invite the public to zoom in. Stay tuned for final details.