BOT Discusses the Loss of the Newspaper, the Tree Canopy and the Building Moratorium at 1-23 Meeting
- Thursday, 25 January 2024 09:25
- Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2024 20:57
- Published: Thursday, 25 January 2024 09:25
- Joanne Wallenstein
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The building moratorium, the tree canopy and the search for a new Village Manager were all top of mind at the Village Board meeting on January 23, 2024.
However, before the official agenda was reviewed, Mayor Justin Arest discussed the suspension of the Scarsdale Inquirer and the role of the press in ensuring good governance. He said, “Unfortunately, our print newspaper will not be covering it this week as they have suspended publication. And this leads me to highlight invaluable role that our local print and digital news sources play in our community. These publications are not just sources of information; they are the lifeblood of our civic engagement. They provide residents with crucial insights into local events and issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, ensuring that we are all well-informed about what's happening right here in our own backyard. Print newspapers are vital in maintaining government transparency, diligently covering our village board meetings, local elections, and school board decisions, fostering a culture of accountability and openness. Moreover, they help in knitting our community closer together, celebrating our local achievements in sports and more as well as serving as a platform for public discourse. They contribute significantly to our local economy as well, supporting our businesses through advertising and helping to stimulate economic growth. And let's not forget, these outlets are a living history, chronicling our community's stories and preserving them for future generations. In a world that's rapidly moving online, the enduring presence of our local print newspapers is a testament to their irreplaceable value in our community."
About the open position of Scarsdale Village Manager, he said the Village has engaged SGR to conduct a national search for a new manager and the search will go live this week.
In the interim, Alexandra Marshall has been serving as the Acting Village Manager. The Board later passed a resolution to award her a stipend of $1,000 per week beginning January 23, 2024 for her service.
Cynthia Roberts of 15 Autenreith Road said she has focused on Scarsdale’s trees for nearly two and one-half decades and asked the Board to make the tree canopy part of the charge to the consultants who are analyzing the land use code during the moratorium. She asked the Board to post the questions that were asked to the consultants, saying, “Can you please update the community on the directive, or questions, that was provided to the consultants? The questions you ask the consultants will determine the usefulness of the resulting recommendations.
She said, ““Presumably, you are selecting consultants who are experts in building and zoning codes, and also tree codes, since the rationale for the moratorium included our trees as an essential factor contributing to the character of our neighborhoods. As our tree code lays out in great detail, Scarsdale’s Trees impact our health, our environment, and our sense of place. “
She made the following recommendations:
-Please convey to our consultants that an important community goal is preserving and maintaining our 50% tree canopy coverage, as identified by our CAC. The consultants should be tasked with critically reviewing our Tree Code, it’s implementation and enforcement to date, in light of (at minimum) meeting the goal of 50% canopy coverage. For example, perhaps we should consider requiring more robust tree replacement requirements, to help maintain the green infrastructure needed to absorb stormwater, absorb carbon dioxide and mitigate warming temperatures?
-The Tree Code should be considered as important as the other land use codes, and not an afterthought.
-Only by taking trees into account up front can our other building and zoning codes successfully work with the Tree Code to maintain the character and charm of our neighborhoods.
-In order to facilitate this, I urge you to explore the value of a Pre-Proposal Conference between a land developer and Village staff. At a pre-proposal conference, elements such as Scarsdale’s mature healthy trees would be flagged for consideration BEFORE an architect submits an initial design to the BAR. Other communities do this as a matter of course.
-Finally, Are the BAR members provided adequate training regarding our Tree Code and Tree protection during construction? Do they have a budget for hiring a consulting arborist?
As you conduct your review during the moratorium, please beware of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. While families come to look at Scarsdale because of the schools, they fall in love with Scarsdale due to its architecturally diverse and charming homes, sense of community, and because it is a Village in a Park.
Later at the meeting Roberts asked the Board to post the questions they had asked the consultants to address. She said, “I am anxious for the public can see the charge to the consultants. It would be helpful for those to be shared in some way. It would give us confidence in the product knowing that they have been asked insightful questions.”
She also requested that when new homes are built, there is enough frontage available to plant canopy trees in the front yard along the street.
Elaine Weir said the Village’s tree canopy is threatened by invasive vines. She asked the Village to allocate funds to support the Village’s vine cutting efforts which could best be done during the winter when leaves do not block access to the invasive vines.
James Detmer asked the Board what is being done about the Building Moratorium. Mayor Arest said the consultants “hit the ground running before the moratorium was passed,” and are addressing “stormwater, aesthetics and bulk,” and “looking at best practices to guide us to find that balance.” He said the board and staff has had many meetings with the consultants and “they are doing their analysis based on the comments…. They are working on their recommendations – and will meet with us and the chairs of the land use committees.” The Mayor encouraged anyone with suggestions about changes to land use laws to email him at Mayor@Scarsdale.com.
27 Woods Lane
An appeal to a decision by the Committee for Historic Preservation to preserve a home at 27 Woods Lane had been scheduled for Monday January 29, 2024. However, Mayor Arest said that the hearing is being postponed and a new date will be set for the appeal.
The Board passed a resolution to purchase a trunk mounted leaf loader for $168,049.
They set a public hearing for February 13, 2024 to authorize a real property tax levy in excess of the NYS Tax Cap in case it is needed. A memo from the Village Treasurer explains, “Adopting the local law to override the tax cap does not preclude the Village Board from adopting a budget in compliance with the property tax cap, it simply allows for the option and protects the Village from any penalties.”
They passed a resolution to allocate the use of $1,832,917 in funds from the American Rescue Plan for the following:
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