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August 20, 2010
by Rob Greenstein
I was taken aback by town attorney Clinton Smith’s remarks in the Town Board meeting of August 10, 2010, regarding the town board’s authority in enforcing its existing zoning code.
Mr. Smith said, “You have to realize that the town is not a party to the transaction. The town is the approving agency. And one of those prisms [through which the board is obliged to look at the developers application] is the Fifth Amendment, which says that a person has the right to do what he will with his property, subject to reasonable regulation. That means that when you want to put a deck on your house you have to get planning board approval, but nonetheless that [approval] can’t be arbitrarily withheld. If the town is to say ‘No, go away,’ there must be a rational, legally supportable basis in fact—and in law—for doing that.”
Mr. Smith seems to be suggesting that the town board does not have the authority to enforce the town’s zoning, or that the town board must agree to a proposal even if it is shown by experts to be deleterious to the community. I can’t help but wonder if the Town Board is ignoring some very rational and compelling data, and that its is fear of litigation is causing members to turn in the direction of approving a zoning change.
The Town Board seems to ignore the fact that the property was purchased as a commercial property, and it’s still zoned as commercial property, with some few one-acre residential lots.
The Town Board seems to ignore the submission by the Chappaqua School Board to the Town Board on September 25, 2009. “With this submission [members of the Board of Education]…seek to emphasize the potential financial burden associated with student enrollment resulting from the development of Chappaqua Crossing. . . We are concerned that, to the extent that Chappaqua Crossing units do not pay their ‘fair share,’ this financial burden will be borne by all other CCSD taxpayers.”
The Town Board also ignores Gregg Bresner’s Op-Ed in NewCastleNOW.org dated 6/28/10, in which Mr. Bresner writes, “The case here is very simple. If the development goes forward as planned (the developer has already suggested that the 55-and-over age restriction on Chappaqua Crossing be removed), the education costs of the new children enrolled in the District will likely be borne in large measure through either drastic and deleterious cuts to our current programs, increased class sizes and/or hefty increases in the property taxes of residents outside of Chappaqua Crossing – you and me.”
Let’s show the Town Board that our community doesn’t fear litigation. To that end, I’ve set up an on-line petition where members of our community can join in the fight to stop the current proposal for residential rezoning at Chappaqua Crossing. Those signing this petition are willing to do anything in their power—including litigation – and to contribute time and/or money to fight the developer or to stop the the Town Board from approving the current proposal for residential rezoning at Chappaqua Crossing.
Take a look at our petition and, by signing, send a message to the developer and to our representatives on the Town Board that our community does not want them to approve the current proposal for residential rezoning at Chappaqua Crossing, and that we’re ready to fight to stop it. Please pass the petition along to your friends in the community.
To view our petition, click Fight to Stop.