Saturday, Jul 02nd

proposedpanoramaLast week’s article detailing a resident’s unsuccessful fight to stop a developer from building tall retaining walls above his patio elicited several letters. The Board of Architectural Review granted approval to a developer to build a series of towering retaining walls topped by fences on Kingston Road to accommodate a larger yard and a pool. The work will adversely impact the neighbor whose property sits at the bottom of the steep incline.

See below for a letter from a local resident who was adversely affected by the construction of a new house next door and another who followed Nadler’s case and recognized flaws in the system that approved the developer’s plans.

To the Scarsdale Board of Trustees, Village Attorney and BAR:

Based on similar experience to that of Mark Nadler’s disappointing quest for a just BAR and Building Department ruling, I advocate for impartial and fair oversight of real property development balanced with the interests and rights of existing Scarsdale residents. I have lived in the Village for many years and experienced and repeatedly witnessed the economic motivation of the Building Department in support of developers superseding the interests and rightful treatment of Village residents. The scales are definitively tipped by this financial motivation providing hugely increased real estate taxes and other payments.

My experience with the teardown of a beautiful home next door in favor of redevelopment coupled with my unsavory interaction with the developer, BAR and Building Department was untenable and in many respects illegal. I FOIL’ed, I reviewed plans, I reviewed inspections, I reviewed reports, I photographed, I attended meetings, I requested meetings; however, all of my efforts resulted in denial of mistakes identified in writing in building applications/third party reports/inspections. Previously approved construction plans were changed by the developer without my knowledge or consent but with the knowledge and consent of the Building Department. The new dwelling was constructed and has resulted in my having to spend in the five figure range to repair damage to my property sourced to erroneous yet approved reports and amended construction plans. Additional issues created by the new home next door are irreparable. And as will likely happen to Mark Nadler’s home, my home is currently less enjoyable and will be less marketable thus rendering lower proceeds resultant from construction endorsed and approved by the BAR and Scarsdale Building Department.

The response to Mr. Nadler’s letter from Mr. Cutler, the Scarsdale Village Planner, fails to address any of Mr. Nadler’s concrete questions. Further, according to Mr. Cutler’s response, if “…it would be inappropriate for the Mayor…to comment…”, why then did the Mayor comment prior by assuring Mr. Nadler that he would receive fairness in presenting his case to the BAR? Fairness includes presentation of ALL information from Mr. Nadler and all associated experts. Mr. Nadler and his team were denied this opportunity at the BAR meeting. The Mayor must be accountable for his words and lack of actions. Mr. Cutler, the Mayor and the BAR owe Mr. Nadler the opportunity to present his entire case resulting in a fair and unbiased ruling with supporting opinion detail rendered by the BAR.

The system is broken. The response to Mr. Nadler’s letter to the Mayor by the Scarsdale Village Planner is a non-answer, shameful and unacceptable by lack of explanation and assumption of responsibility. This appears to be precedent. I implore the BAR, Board of Trustees, Scarsdale Attorney, and other responsible parties to rectify and render fair the real property redevelopment process in Scarsdale balanced with equal consideration of Scarsdale residents’ rights.

Respectfully,
Name Withheld

Scarsdale’s Land Use Process Needs Help

Lot by lot Scarsdale’s bucolic character is changing.

Quintessential Scarsdale homes are torn down and replaced by the proverbial McMansion or massive additions are built which materially alter a home’s original character. And, oftentimes every square inch of buildable land is used, taking away our trees and green space.

Granted, weighing the rights of the property owner against the environmental and aesthetic impact that these material changes produce is an ongoing discussion. Just as its name reflects, Scarsdale’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) is responsible for the review of architectural plans, and that review could use several improvements to help preserve the aesthetic and environmental health of our village. The following are recommendations regarding how BAR, as well as the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board, review can be improved:

(1) Neighbor notification should be expanded beyond the 200 foot requirement. Currently, with respect to residential uses, applicants must give written notice to the owners of every property within 200 feet of the boundary of the property involved in the application. (For commercial uses or other public uses, the requirement is 500 feet.) However, quite often, neighbors beyond the 200 foot limit are impacted by the project and should be given notice.

(2) Notification should be received by neighbors at least 2 weeks prior to a land use hearing. Currently, written notice must be served either by certified mail not less than 10 days prior to the hearing or personally not less than 7 days prior to the hearing. The current requirements simply do not provide enough time for neighbors to prepare for the hearing, especially if they need to consult with a professional.

(3) In the event an application is held over to a subsequent hearing, neighbor notification of the next meeting date should be required. There is currently no such requirement; it is simply within the board’s discretion to direct that notice of the next hearing date be given to neighbors.

(4) An appeals process should be granted to a neighbor who is materially affected by the BAR’s determination. Currently, only the applicant can appeal a BAR decision.

(5) Review of landscape plans must be emphasized as a critical part in the BAR review process. Currently, it is unclear who, if anyone, reviews landscape plans submitted to the BAR.

(6) A consistent policy and guidelines as to what is considered aesthetically acceptable should be established. For example,
there appears to be an inconsistent policy as to whether a circular driveway on a small front yard is acceptable. At one BAR meeting, a small front yard parking area that would allow a car to be parked parallel to the street was rejected as being unsightly while at another BAR meeting a month later a circular driveway on a small front lawn was approved.

In addition to improving land use review, two important changes to our Village Code should be made. First, Scarsdale’s floor area ratio (FAR)-- which is the maximum floor space that can be constructed on a piece of land-- limits should be lowered. Article XVI of the Village Code, which establishes the maximum FAR allowed, sets forth, in part, that:

The recent trend of tearing down existing houses and replacing them with larger houses or building large additions to existing houses threatens the appearance and impacts upon the health, safety, welfare, and quality of life of Scarsdale.

The existing FAR code provisions do not adequately address these pressing issues.

Likewise, Scarsdale’s lot coverage provisions should be revised. Article IV of the Village Code sets forth lot coverage restrictions, and like the Village’s current FAR maximums, must be reduced. As the Code specifically acknowledges:

Excessive coverage of lots with structures and impervious surfaces can limit adequate light and air; cause overcrowding of land; lead to drainage and flooding problems as a result of reduction in the land's water absorption ability; affect the character of the community; and have an adverse impact on neighborhood aesthetics.

Last year the Village drafted amendments to the Village Code regarding bulk and FAR. Though the amendments are not strong enough, they are a step in the right direction. The Planning Board, on March 24th, will hear public comments on these amendments. Click here for more information.

Scarsdale must continue to refine both its code and its rules and regulations in order to address the pressing health, safety, welfare, and quality of life issues presented by land development in our village.

Joan Weissman
Kingston Road

Abigail Talish copySenior Captain Abigail Talish scored her personal high of 22 points against Edgemont.Scarsdale’s Girls’ Varsity Basketball posted a strong victory against Edgemont, 58-34 on Saturday March 6, 2021. The Raiders were led with 22 points from Senior Captain Abigail Tallish and 19 points from Freshman Zephyr Connolly.

Photos by Jonathan Thaler.

Moira ConlanJunior forward Moira Conlan running a fast break.Zephyr ConnollyFreshman guard Zephyr Connolly brings the ball down the court.GoldbanSophomore Isabelle Goldban goes up for the shot.

raizenSVAC President David RaizenDue to the present situation between White Plains Hospital and United Healthcare/Oxford, in response to residents’ requests, Scarsdale Volunteer Ambulance Corps will be providing service to Greenwich Hospital as a pilot program for the next 60 days.

The pilot program will measure turnaround time for SVAC ambulances going to Greenwich Hospital. At the end of the 60 days, SVAC will evaluate the data and make a decision on whether to continue regular service to Greenwich Hospital.

Emergent calls will continue to go to the nearest appropriate facility. According to a White Plains Hospital representative, patients transported to White Plains Hospital who have United Healthcare/Oxford insurance do have coverage for emergency room visits within the parameters of their policy.

SVAC's launch of this pilot program is in response to the many requests it has received from its residents.

SVAC is the primary 911 EMS provider of the Village of Scarsdale and north end of New Rochelle. In continuous operation for more than 50 years, it provides the highest level of prehospital care authorized in the State of New York while maintaining lower operating costs through a combination of volunteer and paid providers. SVAC responds to more than 1,800 calls annually with its fleet of four modern ambulances, three certified fly cars, and a specialty all-terrain utility vehicle. Each year, SVAC's training program graduates dozens of new state- certified EMTs, including high school seniors through Scarsdale's Senior Options program. In 2019, SVAC received the coveted Charmain's Award from the Westchester Regional EMS Council for its contribution to EMS education in the county.

Have questions? Contact David Raizen, President  of Scarsdale Village Ambulance Corps at 914-722-2288.

PurimatWRTMore than 100 Families Celebrated Purim Palooza at Westchester Reform TempleHere are a few notes about happenings in Scarsdale this week:

Purim Fun at Westchester Reform Temple

Westchester Reform Temple celebrated Purim this year on Sunday, February 28 with Purim Palooza: Drive Thru Edition! More than 100 cars and families experienced the holiday story, music and games - all from their cars.

Apiary Café at Scarsdale Library

ApiaryogoThe new Scarsdale Public Library includes a wonderful cafe located right in their new entranceway. Apiary at The Library offers wholesome and delicious light breakfast items, lunch, sandwiches, salads and meals — plus sweets, snacks and hot and cold beverages. It is the perfect spot to grab a bite while picking up a book or enjoying a myriad of other activities at the library.

Until the library is fully open, you can order online or by phone and pick up your food at the library.ApiaryKaleBaby kale salad

Here is a link to their menu. Visit the library website here to order online or call them at 914-713-8674.

Beginning Monday March 8th, high school students will start to have kids in school four days a week for full days on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Students will attend two full days a week and they can order from the cafeteria and eat inside or out and can leave campus to get lunch. Let students know that Apiary is a good option within walking distance to the high school.
ApiaryHerb GrilledChickenPaniniHerb Grilled Chicken Panini

Birthday ZOOM for Bob Harrison

The Harrison Family, living in Scarsdale for forty years, will celebrate the 80th Birthday of Bob Harrison with a ZOOM Birthday Bash this Sunday afternoon March 7th for an hour. Scarsdale friends are invited to join the event by signing up at proscars@aol.com or by calling 914 725-0962 or text to 914 646-4054 (cell) for the Zoom information. The event will include a Zoom video and songs and a Roast of Bob .

In forty years the Harrison family has lived in three homes in Scarsdale including 10 Murray Hill Road, 55 Garden Road and currently for the last 20 years at 65 Fox Meadow Road. The family is looking to down size in Quaker Ridge and Edgewood to complete their Scarsdale round trip.

Bob and his wife Terri have been active in Scarsdale since arriving in Scarsdale in August,1979 with two sons, Zach and Alex, starting at the Heathcote School and graduating from Scarsdale High School on their way to Penn State and Cornell Universities to successful business careers. The boys have brought their families back to Scarsdale with four grandchildren for Bob and Terri.

Bob and Terri have volunteered in many Scarsdale activities over the years for the youth and the Scarsdale Community. Bob served as Village Board Trustee and established the Scarsdale Taxpayer Alert in 1989 to date to keep village and school tax increases to a minimum with good services. Bob led the effort to save and restore the Middle School Tennis Courts in 1983-1984 and raised $ 25,000 to SAVE THE COURTS. He started the Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League as the volunteer director of the Summer League in 1984 that has served over2,000 youth to learn the Lifetime sport of tennis during his 36 years as Director. Bob is currently leading the fund raising effort to help pay for the new comfort station at the Middle School Field and Tennis Courts to be finished for this summer.

We wish all our Scarsdale families to be well during this difficult pandemic period so we can celebrate our families milestones.

Bob and Terri Harrison
65 Fox Meadow Road

Comment from Susan and Joe Levine......Happy 80th Birthday to Bob Harrison.. who SAVED the Junior High Tennis Courts for the residents of Scarsdale.

HarrisonCourtsBob Harrison at the Summer Youth Tennis League

 

teendepressionThis article was written by Lauren Pomerantz, LCSW and Emily Vallario, LCSW both from Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service.

It may seem hard to believe that we are nearing the one year mark of life in a pandemic. COVID-19 has brought about a complex array of factors (uncertainty, social isolation, and parental angst) that have had an impact on the mental health of children and adolescents. Over the past eleven months, we have endured great loss and many changes to a world we once knew. Our primary focus has been on physical safety and well-being, but we are also seeing an intersection that has had significant mental health implications on children and adolescents.

Experts agree that predictability, structure and consistency are important stabilizing forces for children and adolescents, but those have been disrupted since the COVID-19 outbreak. Children have had to deal with tremendous uncertainty in a world that is constantly changing. That is to say little of their loss of “normal”, their isolation, and often their fears that they or someone they know may become sick. Even former staples of structure such as a school day and after school activities have been disrupted, and for many, future plans, whether that be summer camp or departures to college are on hold.

During the pandemic, parents have been called upon to fulfill many roles including educator and mental health provider. While all parents are trying their best, it has been difficult for many to address their own challenges and uncertainties which in turn can make it difficult to calm their children’s anxieties and fully address their emotional needs.

Since the late fall, mental health professionals have noticed an increase in the expressions of isolation and loneliness among youth. Social development is a part of child and adolescent development, yet there are limited opportunities for social interaction. Playdates, birthday parties, organized sports, and extra-curricular activities have all ceased. Many children cannot differentiate between the natural impact that COVID has had on their friendships and connections and the misperception that their friends have intentionally cut them off.

From the onset of the pandemic, mental health professionals have supported the community as a whole by helping them to understand pandemic life in the context of grief and loss in an effort to normalize their emotions. It is important to note that people do not always experience these stages together or in a linear fashion, so there is potential for frustration as we watch family and community members manage in different ways at different times.
The Stages of Grief and Loss were first coined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and are named as:

Denial - This is typically the first of the stages. It serves a very valuable purpose by helping people exist in survival mode and begin to process what is happening.

Anger - During this period, people experience irritability that is often misdirected at their loved ones, government/school officials.

Bargaining - This is the time when people make deals with themselves to have a return to normalcy.

Depression - This is the most difficult of all of the stages and the time when grief really takes a hold of us. For some people this stage is more fleeting and for others it can be very profound. This is when most people tend to reach out for mental health support and when we tend to get questions from parents on what to look for in themselves and their children.

We suggest that parents or caregivers be on the lookout for significant changes in their child’ behavior. These changes include sleeping patterns, diet, activity level, isolation, crying spells and marked withdrawal from family and friends. Severe manifestations of depression can manifest in expressions of hopelessness, self-harm and suicidal ideation. In these instances, professional assistance should be sought. If you are concerned about how your child is coping, a list of mental health resources can be found here:

Acceptance - This is usually the final stage and often the most misunderstood. When we reach a place of acceptance, it does mean we are happy about what has occurred or the loss we have experienced. Acceptance means that we have reached a place of understanding and we are ready to move on and create a new reality.

You can help your teen in the following ways:

-Monitor their stress levels by noticing if there are changes in their health, behavior, thoughts or feelings.


-Listen to them carefully and watch for them becoming overloaded.

-Be aware of your stress and how you are managing and expressing it. Are you engaging with your teens daily?

-Talk openly with them about how they are feeling.

-Encourage them to stay involved with others; whether it’s a weekly zoom call with outside family members, or allowing them to FaceTime with their friends.

-Encourage your teens to exercise and eat regularly.

-Develop a routine.

Set reasonable expectations for screen time. Allow them to express their frustration on this in a calm, healthy way. They will likely share that others do not have limits but stand firm.

Help them understand current situations and engage with them in a solution that works for the whole family.

To hear more on the impact COVID-19 has had on families, please listen to Lauren Pomerantz on the Hitchcock Half, a radio broadcast in which she was interviewed by Reverend Pete Jones from Hitchcock Church. It is linked here on Spotify:

For more information, Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service, 914-723-3281 or visit our website www.sfcsinc.org.

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