Thursday, April 3, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In Our Opinion...

When Is A Bakery Not A Bakery?

Zoning has never been an exact science. That is why municipalities that have chosen over the years to enact zoning ordinances, as nearly every city, town, village, and county, in the tri-state area have - most dating back to the 1950s and beyond - established both a Planning Board and a Zoning Board of Appeals. Planning boards, for the most part, are the birthplace of such law as zoning ordinances and master plans, each, of course, requiring the legislative enactment of those elected or appointed to the controlling town board, village board, city council, etc.

Zoning Boards of Appeals, on the other hand, perform a judicial function essentially mandated by the reality that zoning is merely a contrivance imposed upon the complex relationships between property owners, property occupants, and all those other owners, occupiers, and others, whose use of a given real property is subject to review and regulation by municipal government. It is the Zoning Board of Appeals, a body of appointed citizens, residents of the municipal subdivision, usually five or seven in number, that is charged with the power and responsibility to interpret, and then modify or enforce, the strict letter of the written zoning ordinance. They must review the law applicable to the use by any given residential, industrial, commercial or governmental entity of any particular property, the latter, however,
often exercising exemption or immunity from regulation by way of condemnation or other powers. Zoning Boards of Appeals have the limited power to issue variances, which, as the name applies, may modify the circumstances under which a particular property within the municipality may be constructed and/or occupied and used, in ways not completely in compliance with the language of the applicable
zoning code or ordinance.

Of course, it is precisely because property ownership is an ever more complex bundle of responsibilities and liabilities; taxes, mortgages, insurance, tenants, etc., and zoning, to be practical and effective, cannot be “one size fits all”, that ZBAs must exercise judicial fairness and competence in an attempt to balance the equities with regard to enforcement in cases of variance from the black letter of the governing
ordinance. They must be ever mindful of due process while meticulously avoiding even an appearance of arbitrariness or capriciousness, the virtual boilerplate claim of most Article 78 appeals to State Court.

Having said all of the above, We believe the recent imposition of a six-month moratorium by the Pleasantville Village Board in certain business districts in contemplation of zoning changes, if intended to stall or prevent the establishment of the proposed Dunkin’ Donuts, constitutes a violation of due process in that it would be ex poste facto in its impact and arbitrary and capricious in its intent. The landlord
and proposed tenant have vested interest and consequent rights that cannot be retroactively retrieved by an elected board under pressure from special interest groups, be they constituents or others.

The applicants, having complied with the existing zoning ordinance, and having been appropriately granted the Village Building Inspector’s approval, should not, and cannot, be thwarted in their efforts. All arguments to the contrary notwithstanding, their proposed business is a bakery, a place where retail sales, principally of baked goods, is intended, irrespective of where those products were produced. The concept of bakeries that retail baked goods that have been delivered from off-site, is not new. So-called commission bakeries have been around the New York metropolitan area for more than 75 years.

Those in Pleasantville who would turn the cycle of commercial development back to a slower “horse-and-buggy era” at this late date, to satisfy their need for a colonial village atmosphere, would do well to consider whether they are prepared to financially subsidize landlords and look at a business district dotted with vacant stores.

Our Readers Respond...

Advocate For The Disabled Speaks Out

Dear Editor:

I’m a Professional Nanny for a teenage boy with neurological impairments. I have noticed some rather inappropriate interactions
that many “normal” adults will have with my Charge. I usually let them roll off my back, but recently a healthcare worker interacted very inappropriately to my charge’s attempt at a very pleasant conversation and I feel it is my duty as a professional caregiver to educate the public on such an issue.

Although he has a significant cognitive impairment, my charge is very capable of starting and maintaining a conversation with just about anyone. He loves to talk with people and has been described as a “social butterfly”. Why people feel the need to laugh at him is beyond my
comprehension. I have heard people ask him a perfectly normal question and get a perfectly normal response from him and then they laugh like it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. Did I miss the joke? Or they’ll ignore him and turn to me with that smile that says, ‘ oh, what a cute little retard!’

As a person who grew up with a hearing impairment and stuttering problem, I can assure you that there’s nothing more discouraging than when you are trying your best to be “normal” and have people accept you and they laugh at you, get annoyed with you or just plain ignore
you and walk away. I urge you to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re laughing at, or if that’s too difficult, put yourself in
the shoes of one of the parents. And then maybe you’ll see that you can’t say, “I’m laughing with you, not at you!”

Because he’s not laughing. What he’s doing is trying his hardest to please you and to do what his family, caregivers and teachers have worked hard to teach him!

Hannah R. Swan

More Negative Remembrances of George Pataki

Dear Editor:

St. Peter’s School, on Route 6 in Peekskill, went up for foreclosure. At the time there were three mortgages on the property (1986-1987).
The City Father at the time was Mayor Pataki. Mr. Pataki and his followers (Common Council) purchased the second and third mortgages at a discount using public funds. On the day of the auction Mayor Pataki and his followers sold the mortgages to a Mr. Mike Wallace, who is an attorney from New York City who was the successful bidder. It’s been said the mortgages purchased by the mayor were sold for face value.

Mr. Pataki, for his efforts, was guaranteed title closings. This was believed to have been done through Mr. Pataki’s brother who is an attorney. The development went through all city departments without a hitch.

At a later date, property was sold to another developer who subsequently built hundreds of housing units. The resale of the property was through the efforts of the City Fathers. Millions of dollars passed through the hands of those involved. When Pataki became governor, each of the Council members all received state-appointed positions for which they were not qualified. One councilperson was a shoe salesman, a Mr. Vincent Vesce, at a salary of $200,000 per year; his son at $160,000 per year. He also took along the City Manager, Mr. Seymour.
St. Peter’s School is now known as “The Highlands”. Mr. Wallace also donated $25,000 to Mr. Pataki’s governorship campaign.


Feiner Shares “Amazing” Message
From Greenburgh Water Department

Yesterday, Tuesday, March 25, there was a major water main break on E. Hartsdale Ave. Stores were out of business again (a year ago they
were out because of the flood). I received the following e mail from Randy Cairns of our Water Dept.

Paul Feiner

As of approximately 2 PM today we have restored water supply back to the customers who were without water due to the main break on E.
Hartsdale Ave. We did this by utilizing a back-up interconnection between two different pressure zones at the intersection of Club Way and
E. Hartsdale Ave. This interconnection utilizes a 6” diameter pressure reducing valve that has not been active since approximately 1957. The
water from the high pressure zone goes through the automatic valve where the pressure is reduced some 50 psi which is approximately the
normal pressure in the low zone that E. Hartsdale Ave. is located in.

This valve had to inspected, checked, water turned on, flushed and then the controls on the valve had to be calibrated. To our amazement………it worked after 51 years! We checked most of the stores, including Harry’s, and all had water again. We still must make repairs (which are very difficult and will take a week or more) but, we are not in an Emergency Situation. The County Water District will be starting repairs to their 48” diameter water main at the same spot tomorrow at 8 AM. They must fix their leak first so then we can complete ours. Greenburgh’s 6” water main is broken underneath their 48” water main (which is an old 1882 NYC water line that the County bought in the ‘1950-60’s). No one will be out of water for the remainder of these repairs, unless something else happens.

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