Anyone expecting an immediate “fix” to the Town’s proposed comprehensive plan that would address Edgemont’s objections are in for a disappointment.
The Town’s Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee met for the first time today since hundreds of Edgemont residents spent six hours earlier this week objecting to the plan, which calls for the development of hundreds of multifamily housing units to be stacked on top of retail businesses in three separate “nodes” in Edgemont — but the committee reached no agreement on what specific changes it would recommend.
The committee did not set a timetable for when it would release a third draft, but several committee members said any new draft would probably not be released until sometime in the fall at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, who is not a member of the steering committee, has been assuring Edgemont residents that he has already brokered an agreement whereby the committee would drop plans for the construction of such housing.
Bill Darger, the president of the Edgemont Association, a civic association that represents Old Edgemont, sent an email Wednesday evening stating that he had just gotten off the phone with Mr. Feiner and was “pleased to report that Paul has gotten everyone’s agreement to changes in the Comprehensive Plan in the area that most concerns us,” adding that “[t]he changes are to be formalized at a meeting on Friday.”
That news, however, came as a shock today to steering committee members who said they had never had any communications at all with Mr. Feiner and denied that any such agreement had been reached. Indeed, during the several hours the committee met today, it was obvious no agreement had been reached except on the need to consider the criticism and try to reach consensus on how to address it.
Mr. Feiner also reached out to the Edgemont school district, even though Edgemont civic leaders had repeatedly asked him not to do so, in an apparent effort to try to broker a backroom agreement on the plan with the school board.
Specifically, Mr. Feiner had asked the school board to meet in executive session for the purpose of hiring legal counsel at school district expense to back a suggestion by Mr. Feiner, which many regard as unlawful, and a reckless attempt at pandering, to have the zoning that’s been in place along Central Avenue for the past 40 years changed to eliminate all multifamily housing as a permitted use.
The school district today made clear it would have nothing to do with that effort.
In an email to Mr. Feiner, Victoria Kniewel, Edgemont school superintendent, said,
“To clarify the role of the Edgemont School District, our mission is to educate all students within the metes and bounds of Edgemont. To the best of our knowledge there has never been a time when the Edgemont School District got involved in issues such as zoning and planning.”
Ms. Kniewel added that all the school board asks is that “the town study the impact of the Comprehensive Plan on the schools. We have provided data as requested by the town and remain willing to do so, ” she said.
Evidently frustrated by his inability to force a committee on which he does not sit to do his bidding, Mr. Feiner demanded this afternoon that the committee issue a town-wide statement that “the concerns Edgemont residents have are being listened to.”
Committee chairman Francis Sheehan, a town councilman, had issued an email earlier this week acknowledging that there had been a strong turnout at the committee’s hearings.
In an email late this afternoon to the steering committee, Mr. Feiner said the committee should issue an email stating the “reasons for any delays in officially modifying the draft plan (you don’t want to take an action for one school district and not another — as an example.)”
He added that “[i]t’s critical that we calm residents now — because opposition to the plan is increasing and generating momentum” and urged the committee to “get the controversy behind us and move forward with the good aspects of the comp plan.”
Steering committee members said they wanted to read the transcript of the entire six hour hearing, which is not expected to be available until next week.
Anyone still wishing to comment on the Draft Comprehensive Plan should write to firstname.lastname@example.org.